Thursday, 20 April 2006
The Jaundice Table by Glyn Roberts, April 19, 2006
The Jaundice Table by Glyn Roberts
Melbourne Comedy Festival
La Mama, April 19 to 30, 2006
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 20
The Comedy Festival sees the emergence of all styles of new comic material of all standards.
The Jaundice Table, written by Glyn Roberts and directed by Peta Hanrahan, straddles the genre of rambling male stand-up comedy, Beckett’s absurdist theatre and John Cleese in Monty Python. It is a blend that works in part.
Two men, (Josh Cameron, Jonathan Peck), seated on two chairs placed in the middle of the tiny La Mama space, engage in a stream of disconnected rants, obsessions, confessions, diatribes, reminiscences, bad jokes and fisticuffs.
It is akin to two streams of consciousness colliding in the dim recesses of two addled minds. Each character demands attention, each is preoccupied with his own inward monologue and both seem to be demented by too much testosterone most of the time.
They begin the show by running screaming from the theatre, leaving us waiting for them to circle the outside street block and return through the other door.
They then restart more sedately, discussing Josh’s writing a novella. But the conversation – if we can call it that – deteriorates into dislocated, and often funny rants about road accidents, Cameron’s passion for his ex-girlfriend, food, the arts and even puffins; funny birds puffins.
Their wrangling degenerate further into a slow-motion fist fight. Cameron’s frustration ends in his twisting his own nipple because, he says, “I want to feel something.”
Peck confesses he wants to borrow $30,000 to have a womb installed, not because he wants to be a woman, (God forbid!) but because he could do with the extra storage space or he could rent it out. Yes, the piece is getting more and more absurd. Squatters move in to his new womb and leave it in a mess.
The absurdity continues as these two men tussle to assert their power. The problem is that, although much of the material written by Roberts is funny, Cameron and Peck spend far too much time shouting at us and each other. It is reminiscent of John Cleese’s angry chef (“It makes me maaaaaddddd!) or Basil Fawlty beating his Morris Minor with a branch but, in person, in a tiny space, it does not work for more than one scene.
In the end the pair simply look out of control. A little more subtlety in the direction performances might enhance the theatricality in this piece and add some comic layers.
By Kate Herbert