Tag: Scott Edgar

MICF 2016: Tom Ballard’s BOUNDLESS PLAINS TO SHARE

Brave, brutal and frankly brilliant comedy

By Bradley Storer

Using the contentious and polarizing issue of refugees and immigration as the subject of a comedy show is not immediately the most appealing idea. Luckily Tom Ballard, an award-winning and accomplished young comedian, has proven adept in previous shows at finding the intersections between the personal and the political, and the humour contained within. Here he uses his comedic skill to examine Australia’s approach to refugees, the oft-maligned ‘boat people’ who have informed political policy for decades.

Boundless Plains to Share.jpg

This ‘comedy-lecture’, as Ballard terms it, leans more towards comedy at the beginning, as Ballard eases his audience in with some self-deprecating jabs and some well-executed audience participation. The ‘lecture’ comes in a self-contained section where Ballard manages at hilariously break-neck (and minutely timed, courtesy of an audience member’s stopwatch app) speed to summarise Australia’s immigration policies throughout the entire 20th century with some brutally funny jabs at those in power during these eras.

The danger of a show such as this is the possibility of only preaching to the converted (since those attending a young gay comedian’s show are not necessarily likely to be politically conservatives) or indulging in self-righteous anger and finger-pointing that does little to engage the audience. While Ballard is clear and precise about where the origins of our deplorable policies towards refugees come from, he, under the direction of Scott Edgar, uses various devices and clever writing to draw the audience into an open discussion and to understand the people behind the de-humanizing names: ‘boat people’, ‘illegals’ and ‘cue-jumpers’.

The sentiment that comes across is not ‘we are terrible people’, but rather ‘we are good people, so how are we letting this happen?’ After keeping the audience laughing uproariously through the rest of the show, Ballard concludes with an incredibly emotional finale that emphasizes the common humanity shared by all of us that connects us regardless of race, religion or country of origin. There are no laughs, but this moment of seriousness feels rightly earned by Ballard, and if the tears and riotous applause following are anything to go by, the audience agrees. Arguably the best show Ballard has ever presented, and quite possibly one of the strongest shows for the entire festival.

Date: 26th March – 17th April, 11 shows

Venue: Mon – Melbourne Town Hall, Saturday and Sunday – Trades Hall

Times: Monday 8:15pm, Saturday 26th March/2nd April/ 16th April 5:15pm, Sat 9th April 5:45, Sun 4:15pm

Price: Full $27.50, Concession $22, Preview $22

Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au, at the door, 1300 660 013

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REVIEW: Evgeny Shwarz’s THE DRAGON

Comedy trio Tripod spread their draconian wings

By Ross Larkin

Corruption. Power. Denial. Oppression… Sound amusing? Well, it is.

Toby Schmitz has adapted Evgeny Schwarz’s 1944 satirical play The Dragon into a modern theatrical feast of fiery wit and cleverly apt and poignant dialogue.

From the outset, some skepticism is understandable. Has director, Marion Potts, created a fairy tale? A pantomime? A musical? It’s a little hazy. Soon after, however, it really doesn’t matter.

TheDragon

Melbourne’s ingenious comic trio Tripod (Scott Edgar, Steven Gates and Simon Hall) have not only written the music for the piece, they also perform their catchy soundtrack while portraying the good guy onlookers as well as the contrasting evil three-headed dragon – one hilarious head each.

Sir Lancelot (played with gorgeous charm by Jimi Bani) arrives in a small village to slay said dragon and relieve its inhabitants of the oppression and control inflicted by their so-called ‘almighty’, while rescuing a fair maiden (Nikki Shiels), condemned to wed the manipulative beast.

However, the brainwashed town and its foolishly egocentric and impressionable mayor (the ever-impressive Kym Gyngell), are under the illusion the dragon is to be worshipped as their all-knowing leader, and remain under its spell, oblivious to their repressed existence, and therefore resistant to Lancelot’s quest.

In an Orwellian struggle to revolutionise a totalitarian-wracked culture (coincidently, or more likely deliberately, in line with current Australian politics), Schmitz’s impressively astute and often poetic dialogue, meshed with Tripod’s loveable commentating music and lyrics, is a delightful merry-go-round of tension and fun.

Perched on a very effective revolving set, The Dragon is confronting, thought-provoking, amusing and highly satisfying, thanks to a brilliant script and soundtrack, not to mention a delightfully talented cast.

The Dragon is playing now until July 26, 2013.
Wed to Sat 7.30pm, Sat 2.00pm matinee,
Sun 5.00pm, Tues July 23 at 6.30pm.

The Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Melbourne.

Bookings on (03) 9685 5111 or at www.malthousetheatre.com.au