Friday, 30 November 2012

Death of a Comedian, Nov 28, 2012 **1/2

By Fred Rowan
La Mama Courthouse, until Dec 9, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: 2&1/2
Full review published in Herald Sun on Friday, Dec 7, 2012
Jeremy Kewley, Tim Ferris and Kevin Summers

IF YOU'VE EVER WATCHED A GANG OF COMEDIANS at a gig and wondered what happens backstage, Fred Rowan’s play, Death of a Comedian, directed by Bruce Langdon, will show you – warts and all.

Rowan, who is a comedian himself, depicts a gang of self-absorbed, competitive and anxious comics who are all at different stages of their careers.

The play reveals their grimy secrets and bad behaviour as they wait off-stage during a comedy benefit gig for a psychiatric hospital.

The narrative focuses on the return to the stage of disgraced TV comic and recovering addict, Johnny Mazing (Kevin Summers), who sneaks his name onto the running sheet for the show in order to revive his decimated career..
While Rowan’s play has a strong premise, some well-observed dialogue and credible characters, its potential is not fully realised, the dialogue is wordy, the staging too static, the pace slow and the acting frustratingly uneven.

Summers captures some of the vulnerability and resentment of Johnny, as he struggles to overcome his nerves and confront the prejudices of the new comics who treat him as a nobody, and the old guard who consider him a pariah.

Jeremy Kewley is puppyish and hilariously annoying as Graham, a doctor who thinks he is funny and, being the only non-comedian back stage, ironically gets the biggest laughs.

The other characters represent the range of current comedians: the ambitious newcomer (David Nash), the jealous host (Tim Ferris), the jaded, sozzled comedienne (Wendy Little), the perky radio babe (Karla Silvey), the arrogant TV star (Shannon Woollard) and his brutal, sexist TV producer (Linden Compassi).

Although it craves some script editing and tightening of the performances, Death of a Comedian is a diverting glance into the secret lives of comics.

By Kate Herbert

Kevin Summers, Jeremy Kewley, Tim Ferris, Shannon Woollard, Wendy Little, David Nash, Linden Compassi, Karla Silvey.

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