Tag: social commentary


Some thin spots filled out with big laughs

By Matthew Farmer

In the biggest theatre space in the Melbourne Town Hall last night, we were treated to international comedy star Arj Barker, and his one-man show for MICF – Go Time! This is his philosophy of not letting your ego get in the way of something you might do in the future, because despite what that crazy little red-head tells you, tomorrow is not a day away, it does not exist. You are now. Your heart is now, its go time, right now. A great idea and a great message, but when mixed with toilet humour, it doesn’t quite stand for the whole sixty minutes.

Arj Barker

The show starts with a musical number, which was a genuine surprise. It then continues through some poignant social commentary, embarrassing admissions, local restaurant reviews, all interspersed with 2013 copyrighted Arj Barker-isms, such as go build a pyramid and get to the point, or go get yourself a deck of cards, and deal with it.

The role of a comedian is to look at life from a unique point of view, to engage with you and to have you see the world through their altered eye sight. Arj made some strong comments about the factories in China making iPhones, the environment and the notion of ‘job creation’, which had you thinking, and then he dropped a comedy bomb onto you: showing you an empty palm on the left, while smacking you in the face with his right.

Arj engages with the audience well, and never misses a beat. If a joke fails, he owns it and then moves on. I have previously only seen Arj Barker on comedy festival specials or TV shows where he only has a bit part to play. To see him live for a whole 60 minutes however, felt a little forced. The front of the show worked well and was strong, but the ends were just a little bit frayed, although it did end with great toilet humour and another song and dance. Plus, he mingled with the public in the foyer right after for merchandise and photo opportunities, which is always good to see in a celebrity.

Arj’s show Go Time is a show that comes from his heart, has a lot of energy and good intentions. He will try his darnedest to uplift you and gosh darn, if it doesn’t work on some level for you.

Arj Barker’s Go Time is playing all Festival long at the Town Hall, except for Mondays. Tickets are $33 – $42.50 and can be bought online at ticket master, or at the venue.

REVIEW: Declan Greene’s POMPEII, L.A.

A wry, absurdist take on the celebrity life

By Myron My

The Malthouse Theatre production of Declan Greene’s Pompeii, L.A. follows the fortunes of a troubled young child star after a terrible accident leaves him in hospital. Green looks at the influence and effects Hollywood has on such young impressionable people and speculates as to the ultimate fate that most of them will meet.

To begin with, Nick Schlieper’s slick set design was flawless: I would go so far as to say it was right up there with the most impressive stage designs I have seen.  There was so much attention paid to detail and ensuring the environment was as real as possible. Having such extravagant sets did run the risk of a clumsy transition with getting rid of and adding so many props and pieces, but scene changes were executed well and went very smoothly.

Also worth mentioning was the great play across such a large space. There were lavish scenes that spread out all over the stage which did create a sort of divide between us and the action and whether this was intentional or not, it worked well. In contrast, the scenes in the hospital which used a much a smaller space and moved closer to the audience created that intimacy and solitude one would expect.

I did find the story a little hard to follow, even somewhat convoluted. I appreciate what Greene was attempting to do in showing the surrealism existing between celebrity life and real life and exploring what can happen when the two worlds blur together but as an average audience member I was left wondering what was going on quite a few times which detracts from being able to immerse oneself into the experience. 

However, what the story lacked was more than made up by the actors, in particular David Harrison as the unnamed protagonist. Harrison played the role with realism and honesty, especially his scenes in hospital. Even when he was surrounded by exaggerated caricatures of people in those scenes, he still maintained the humanity and true emotion of his character. Belinda McClory was also great with her opening cameo as Judy Garland and continued to impress with the other characters she portrayed throughout. There were times I was unsure if there was a different actor performing, such were her chameleon ways.

Overall, Pompeii, L.A. is a thought-provoking production and considering how strongly obsessed our culture is with celebrities and their lifestyles, it’s an interesting piece of theatre that is well worth watching.

Venue: The Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St, Southbank

Season: Until 9 December | 7:30pm, Sat 2:30pm, Sun 5:30pm

Tickets: $58 Full | $48 Concession | $28 Student

Bookings: https://boxoffice.malthousetheatre.com.au

Review: WIL ANDERSON is Wilarious

Melbourne Comedy Festival fare at its finest

By Myron My

The first thing I noticed when Wil Anderson came on stage to perform his 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show Wilarious, were the missing presence of thongs.

I have seen Wil perform five times and each time he has never worn proper shoes. I felt this was going to be a very different show with him standing in front of a room full of people – except for the two empty seats front row center  (their loss) – wearing shoes!

The beauty of Wil is that much of what he says has probably happened to many people, but it’s stuff that hardly anyone is willing to admit in a public forum. Put your hand up if you would happily (ok, maybe not happily) admit that “someone once fell asleep as I was going down on them”. Didn’t think so. But Wil does. And despite the subject matter, he doesn’t allow it get into crass territory, a trap into which so many others fall into.

Much of Wilarious does however draw on current issues and social commentary. There a perfect blend of seriousness and humour in what Wil has to say: from gay marriage rights to teaching kids that life isn’t always fair and not having them believe everyone comes up a winner all the time. There is truthfulness and reality to what Wil is saying and with his unique blend of story-telling and humour, and it makes for some poignant moments too – followed by fits of laughter.

Wil tells us that his mantra in life is that if you hear something negative, turn it into a positive. Sadly, it cannot be done in this circumstance as Wil is in top form delivering the right amount of laughs with the right amount of thinking and intellect. Wilarious met and exceeded expectations, reminding me why Wil Anderson is still considered as one of the best Australian stand-up comedians today.

The Comedy Theatre
Cnr Exhibition & Lonsdale Sts, Melbourne
28 March – 15 April
29 Mar-15 Apr Tue-Sat 8.45pm
Sun 6.15pm
Full Sat $40
Full Wed-Fri & Sun $36
Concession $30 (N/A Fri & Sat)
Bookings: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/