Friday, 29 March 2002

Eccentric Acts, March 29, 2002

By Sue Broadway and Jeff Turpin
 At Theatreworks, March 29 until April 7, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Eccentric Acts is a goofy show. The main reason is the original vaudeville routines upon which Sue Broadway and Jeff Turpin base the production. These are indeed eccentric act.

The show is a collage of clown, music, juggling and old film footage. Broadway strings it together with a loose, chatty, not wholly successful narration. The casualness of the narration seems amateurish and Broadway is initially uncomfortable on stage.

The show becomes progressively more interesting and entertaining and the two actors more engaging and relaxed in their roles as clown mistress, MCs and assistant.

The highlights are several acts in the second half. Broadway appears in a silver metallic outfit made of various percussive metal objects that she plays hilariously.

There are a few quick costume changes that get laughs. The costume that transforms into a tent is a beauty. The most successful act is the tea party. Broadway serves herself a full afternoon tea by pouring hot tea from a pot into a tea porcelain cup and saucer on her head.

Huge laughs come from over-filling the cup until it pours down her carefully composed face. She tops it off with tossing lumps of sugar and a teaspoon into the cup.

Turpin accompanies her on a clarinet. His routine with the music stand is classic clown comedy and he plays the music stand tube like a trombone to the delight of the audience.

His clown becomes more confident and funnier as the show progresses. His style is low-key as he plays the servile assistant.
The video footage of quirky old Australian vaudevillians is rivetting. The Egyptian dancing twins, the contortionist spider man, George Wallace and Roy Rene feature.

What could be elaborated upon is Broadways; stories about her grandparents, Alf and Elsie Broadway,  who were vaudevillians. We are fascinated by this story and want more.

A mistake is not a problem. It is an opportunity," said broadways' grandfather. The errors on stage often got the biggest laughs in vaudeville.
This show is fun and unusual in content. What it needs is tightening of scene changes and more of the high tension performance that the vaudevillians used on stage.

It could do with a single directorial eye to bring the style together, heighten the comedy and drama as well as speed up the pace of the acts.

By Kate Herbert

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