Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 11 January 2014
Wogboys, Jan 12, 2014 ***1/2
Princess Theatre, until Feb 2, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 12 Stars:***1/2
Review also published in print in Herald Sun on Tues Jan 14, 2014. KH
Vince Colosimo &Alex Dimitriades
If you grew up in a Southern European family
where the furniture was covered in plastic, your school lunch smelt funny and
nobody spoke English in your house, Wogboys will make you feel at home – or
give you nasty flashbacks.
Our family is 50% Italo-Aussie so a lot of it all feels scarily familiar.
The original, 1980s show, Wogs Out Of Work,
reclaimed the word “wog”, launched a new brand of identification comedy for
second generation, European immigrants, and propelled Nick Giannopoulos into a lucrative stage
and screen career based on “wog humour”.
plenty of Giannopoulos’s
old but funny material and clever comic delivery,
the most hilarious of which are his Greek cleaning woman and his reminiscences
about a Greek childhood.
These solo routines are scattered amongst
episodes set during the late 1990s during the carefree life of the “wog boys”:
Steve (Giannopoulos), his cousin Chris (Alex Dimitriades), and Italian friends,
Frank (Vince Colosimo) and Dominic (Frank Lotito).
his pals to help cousin Chris pay off his gambling debt by dealing drugs, a
plan that goes right off the rails, as expected.
This narrative stretches 20-minutes of
material to a patchy 90 minutes, which creates some spongy scenes, clunky story
links and a weaker second half, but it also provides some funny character
moments and gags.
Many of the jokes and stereotypes are clearly out-dated
but still get big laughs from the audience, although the script is crying out
for some younger characters and topical references to the behaviour of current
second or third generation migrants.
But the gags about the drug-dealing Greek mum
disguising her drugs as bonbonniere or making a bong from an Ouzo bottle are
Colosimo’s Italian Stallion, Frank, is an
hilarious throwback whose life at 40ish is still built around picking up chicks
at Chasers Night Club and listening to old disco tunes and George Michael.
Dimitriades, whose comic skills are a
revelation, handles a gag with finesse and almost steals the show in the final
minutes doing a bizarre but credible caricature of Samuel L. Jackson in a
Tarantino-esque movie, then tops it off with a riotous, James Brown-style soul
Lotito begins shakily with a rather shrill
characterisation of Dominic, the nerdy, mamma’s-boy chemist, but he hits his
straps in the final sketch when channelling Joe Pesci.
Hollie Andrew is a capable performer, unfortunately her character is both under-utilised
and underwritten and looks like a token female addition.
After two movies and a TV series based around
the “wog boys” theme, this is the first stage show in a decade and it certainly
had the capacity crowd hooting and hollering.