Monday, 2 October 2000

Bag of Nails by Anthony Morgan AND Mind Eater Gumbo Theatre, Oct 2, 2000

Bag of Nails - A Life's Work in Progress by Anthony Morgan to October 21, 2000
Mind Eater  Gumbo Theatre to October 8, 2000
Both at North Melbourne Town Hall
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Anthony Morgan is back again. He says he retired from the comedy scene two year ago - but he forgot he had no skills to survive in the real world. Oops!

Bag of Nails relies on Morgan's natural wit and fast comic improvisation. His style is eccentric. He used to come on stage with one joke that lasted for 45 minutes.

In this show, he gets 20 minutes of material out of explaining why there is no Opening. Ric Birch did everything that could be done in an Australian Opening Ceremony.

The middle bit is taken up with an ongoing explanation of why there was no opening and he ends with a marketing strategy to sell CDs.

He prowls up and down the carpeted aisle in the room above the library at North Melbourne Town Hall. He is hilarious, improvising his way into new jokes about deadbeat fringe paraders who are half-way through the anarchists handbook or about heroin addicts, his own travels to Texas, land of country music and little else.

He reminds us of ignored Australian icons. Where were the holden utes in the opening ceremony, or the Monaro precision drivers peeling around little Nicki Webster?

Morgan is self-derisory, talented and under-used in the comedy industry of TV or radio. Somebody should wake up.

Gumbo Theatre is a group of looney Japanese performers who, in Mind Eater, goof around with a series of quirky comic narratives in a vivid style of physical theatre.

The first is the Mind Eater about a woman obsessed with dieting. Next is a woman looking for a soul mate who will sacrifice his life for love. Another is a road accident and trial then a man who loses his job, wife and life and a woman who needs cosmetic surgery. Another woman donates a kidney and is impregnated by the doctor.

The style is idiosyncratic and distinctly Japanese. It is comic grotesque, dipped in Japanese Butoh dance. The actors leap and shout, grimace and sing with some live percussive accompaniment and recorded music. the costumes are huge and compelling.

The show is often messy and loose in form but it is always startling, silly and fun.

By Kate Herbert

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