Saturday, 11 January 2014

Wogboys, Jan 12, 2014 ***1/2

Princess Theatre, until Feb 2, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 12
 Review also published in print in Herald Sun on Tues Jan 14, 2014. KH
 L-R 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”.

Wogboys recycles 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).

Steve convinces 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 crowd-pleasers.

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 number.

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.

Although 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.

By Kate Herbert
  Nick Giannopoulos


Nick Giannopoulos
Vince Colosimo
Alex Dimitriades
Frank Lotito
Hollie Andrew

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