Sunday, 7 April 2002

Say Nothing by Ridiculusmus, April, 2002

Melbourne Comedy Festival
Lower Melbourne Town Hall until April 21, 2002
Bookings: 1300 66 0013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Ridiculusmus is an extraordinary and skilful piece of absurd theatrical comedy.

Two British actors, David Woods and Jon Hough stand face to face atop a suitcase filled with grass. From this restricted space they create, through characters, a miniature version of the maddening world of Ireland.

Kevin (Woods OK) is an Englishman from Humberside who prides himself on his Irish ancestry. He has a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Studies and arrives on the Irish border between Derry in the North and Donegal OK in the South to facilitate forums for peace groups. It is an hilariously futile exercise.

We never see him achieve anything apart from sabotaging his own conflict resolution forum, ironically by shouting at a co-worker.

He stands nose to nose with his Southern landlady, Sally Brady. She swindles him out of thirty quid sterling a week for a room already occupied. Hough plays Sally with a softly irritating and intrusive manner that would drive any alcoholic to drink. Kevin has no hope.
His other nemesis is Frank, a northerner, also played by Hough. He plays Frank with such a wonderful rapid-fire brogue that he is incomprehensible to both Kevin and us.

Frank harasses Kevin to attend meetings and drink with him but tells him nothing.

Say nothing is the title of this British Council funded show and that is exactly what the Irish do. They shut right up. Kevin is driven to distraction by the time he leaves months later.

 He is dragged into the conspiracy of silence. His need to contribute and redress the indignities done to the Irish by the English is ruined by frustrating resistance of the Irish.

What is so fascinating about this piece is its eccentric theatricality. Woods and Hough use impeccable timing and compelling and surprising transformations of characters.

 They interpolate snatches of violent racist rantings amidst the pallid conversations with Sally and Frank, the passive-aggressive characters. The dialogue is reincorporated and repeated as scenes are replayed.

This is a treat in a Comedy Festival always dominated by stand-up comedians.

By Kate Herbert   

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