By Joana Simmons
David Strassman and his colourful collection of puppets are bringing absolute magic and comedic brilliance to the Atheneaum Theatre in his brand-new show iTedE. Renowned as the man who made ventriloquism hip again, Strassman has been cracking up audiences at the Athenaeum for 15 years and is back, pushing boundaries further with spellbinding technology and timely social commentary. His ability to make all those characters fully come to life is unbelievable.
With the help of the lovable Ted. E. Bare, Strassman warms up the crowd with suitable jokes related to AFL Grand Final weekend. We learn that Strassman is worried that with our lives becoming more and more reliant on technology, our imaginations are becoming weaker, which means shows like his and live theatre will die out. He wants to rally his puppets together to sit on a panel at a TED Talk about “the suspension of disbelief.” The range of characters and the way they are developed is incredible: from Chuck Wood, the wise-cracking, quick-witted and ever uncouth, to Buttons, the sick, intoxicated clown. We see how they are different parts of Strassman’s personality; the voices in his head bought to life with absolute dexterity and intelligence.
It is delightful to see how even in our world of CGI and virtual reality (looking at you, Pokeman GO!) how the robotics and puppeteering can have a crowd swept up in every move and wetting themselves laughing in the process. The robotics are incredibly advanced, allowing each puppet to move on their own. The set, lighting and sound are high-quality and transform the theatre into a new world. The thing that still has my jaw dropping is how there were no breaks between all the voices Strassman was doing. How he managed to breathe is beyond me, and shows how he is truly a master.
Melbourne has a host of awesome art going on at the moment– Melbourne Fringe, Melbourne Festival, gigs, musicals and all the underground instillations this city is renowned for. Strassman’s iTedE is an event not to miss. It reignites your inner child’s imaginative flame and tickles your adult sense of humour. Book today, it’s worth braving the Footy crowds for!
30 Sep – 15 Oct 2016, 7pm
The Athenaeum, Collins Street