Tag: uplifting


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: JO LOTH in Mind Games

Intense, evocative – and enlightening…

By Bradley Storer

To the straining sound of discordant guitar, a desperate woman trapped in material resembling a strait-jacket plunges through the performance space of The Butterfly Club. Before our eyes this lost soul escapes her confinement, and with the simple addition of a blonde wig transforms into the domineering Dr Jolene Mindtrick who guides us through the first steps on this journey – the mind plays tricks, she tells us, and we must learn to control it.

Performer Jo Loth, who emerges immediately after the appearance of Dr Mindtrick to speak directly to the audience, has crafted a confronting cabaret work based on her interviews with sufferers of mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder. It is also partly based on Loth’s own experiences, she openly admits at the beginning of the evening. 

A cavalcade of characters and their experiences and ways of coping with their disorders are introduced, each one explored in heart-breakingly realistic fashion through a variety of different original songs. The wide range of styles which appear, including opera, country and rap, seem particularly appropriate as different expressions of the broad spectrum of psychotic illness.

This is cabaret in its most intimate form, as Loth delves into the most and delicate aspects of the human psyche. Although the show remains, on the whole, light-hearted, it is not a show which elicits deep belly laughs from what it depicts: we are placed directly into the mindset of someone teetering close to the edge of complete breakdown or suicide. When Loth enacts parts of her own struggle with depression onstage, it feels like a precious gift is being given to the audience – we are not merely being told what it is like to suffer mental illness, but are being shown and made to experience this landscape of despair directly.

Loth is an incredibly skilled and committed performer, swapping between personas at a moment’s notice and bringing each character to life with rich physicality and a distinctive vocal quality. Her accompanist Damien Slingsby is a wonder, accompanying both on piano and electric guitar, expertly beat-boxing and even singing a song of his own which touches the heart with its simplicity and sincere emotion.

The reoccuring spectre of Dr Mindtrick, a symbol of the repression and denial which prevents sufferers from reaching out and seeking help for their pain, is a sharp and powerful reminder of the show’s primary message: the hidden and devastating pain of mental illness can only begin to heal if we acknowledge its existence. Mind Games, in bringing that message to light, is incredibly moving and ultimately uplifting.

Date: Thurs 7th to Sun 10th June
Time: Thurs to Sat at 7pm, Sun at 6pm
Ticket price:$23/$20 conc/$18 group

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com