Sunday, 30 March 2014

Bob Downe in Bob, Sweat and Tears, March 29, 2014 ****1/2

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 
Athenaeum Theatre, until April 20, 2014 (Tues, Fri, Sat & Sun only) 
Star rating:****1/2
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 29, 2014   
Full review also online in Herald Sun on March 30. KH

Quelle horreur! Polyester Bob Downe is coming out – straight!

Shock, horror! Bob Downe, of the polyester suit, platinum wig and plastic Ken doll campery, is coming out – straight!

He’s tightening up his limp wrist, ditching songs that smack of gayness (anything by Elton John and I Am What I Am from La Cage aux Folles), and replacing them with butch numbers such as Wanna Be In My Gang with Skinhead dancing.

He can’t sing Me And Alan Jones anymore, because he is now a committed, metrosexual bloke who goes to a men’s group run by Frankston politician, Geoff Shaw, retrieves repressed straight memories, and pervs at an over-sized poster of a girl’s bottom.

Fortunately, this new, ‘straight’ Bob is not averse to singing a medley or three and, accompanied by his super-tight, three-piece band (John Thorn, Sam Lesky, Holly Thomas), to match his three-piece, white safari suit, he delivers a hot, top 40 list of tunes.

He performs audacious versions of late 20th century songs including a weird, sort of Roy Orbison doing Beatles numbers.

To justify the show’s title, he does a final mix of fab Blood, Sweat and Tears songs that includes Lucretia MacEvil, Spinning Wheel and a singalong to Hi-De-Ho.

Happily, Bob still has his signature Colgate white grin, aching grimace, stretched vowels, non-existent consonants and intermittently incomprehensible, drawled lyrics.

Bob’s material is sharp, tightly written and hilarious while his 70s dance moves and vocal technique are inspired.

His repartee is witty and acerbic, his comic timing and delivery are impeccable, and he works the crowd like a pro – think of variety show host, Don Lane, crossed with Ken – and Barbie.

This new model super-straight Bob Downe still minces and shimmies like a drag queen so it is a relief to hear him, in the finale, deny the rumours and set us straight – or gay again.

Tip: Do not leave before the end ‘cos the biggest laugh is his final revelation.

By Kate Herbert

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