Thursday, 13 March 2003

Howard Slowly Does His Man Part, March 13, 2003

Howard Slowly Does His Man Part  by Howard Stanley
 La Mama, March 13 to 23, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

How do we describe Howard Stanley's  alter-ego, Howard Slowly?  About ten years ago, he was known in the comedy clubs as 'the comedian's comedian.'

He might be called a performance artist, a performance poet, a spoken word artist or an eccentric theatrical performer.  The point is it is almost impossible to describe the work.

The publicity says, "This cumulative, evolving, life-event contains words, low level rudeness, infrequent nudity, pointing, one joke, a chair, a plastic fish, a soft toy,(cute blue monkey), a flag (Australian), a frankfurt, scissors and no proselytising."

All this is true. But this is a non-narrative performance with a series of vignettes, raves, poems and silly business that defy definition. It has always been so with Howard Slowly.

The fifty minute show is introduced by a red based plastic goblet that sits in state in a glowing light. Yes, the cup speaks, excited to be on stage for its debut.

Howard Slowly appears with a paper bag over his head. Silently, he weaves his quivering path to the stage. For ten minutes he is silent. The bag is removed. He wears a white neutral mask. When he rips off the mask the grotesquery begins.

What follows is a series of naughty bits. We have several minutes of face pulling and escaping body gases, shall we say. Then come personal raves to the audience about school days.

 The piece is becoming like the French Dada artists of the 1920s. Abstract, irreverent, metaphorical and wicked. There are poems about being a sperm, erections or having sex for the first time. There is a poem about seduction spoken as he massages a wooden chair,

This leads to an hilarious scene with a one-eyes trouser snake that looks like a child's snakey puppet emerging from his trousers.

The material is risky and out on the edge for an audience. and the sexual references go on and on. Armed with scissors, he snips bits from a frankfurter tucked into his zipper. The finale is two pieces from Howard Slowly's latter days. My favourite was always, 'I Am the Acrobat of Love'.

Suffice to say he does extraordinary things with Baci chocolates.

By Kate Herbert

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