Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 29 March 2014
Paul McCarthy in Identity Crisis, March 28, 2014 ***
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Forum Theatre, Pizza Room, until April 20, 2014 Star rating: *** Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 28 Review also published online in Herald Sun on Sunday March 30, 2014. KH
impersonations but some material needs sharpening.
Paul McCarthy is a consummate impersonator and character comedian who is
better recognised as his subjects than as himself.
When total strangers call him “Kochy” in the street, is it any wonder
he’s talking about an identity crisis?
In this solo show, Identity Crisis, McCarthy courageously steps away
from the protection of his characters most of the time and back into his own
skin to explore his youthful identity crisis and his eccentric mother’s role in
McCarthy’s mum’s outrageous behaviour provides comic fodder, ranging
from her surprisingly liberal attitude to sex, self-justification, relentless
denial and rampant Catholicism.
But the most compelling story is McCarthy’s shocking revelation of her
adultery with – well – an unexpected man – and this story is so gob-smacking
that it deserves more time.
His stand-up material needs sharpening while the show’s structure needs
tightening and a clearer through-line to fulfill the comic potential of this
Despite the comic possibilities of family traumas and youthful, oddball
choices, McCarthy’s impersonations are overwhelmingly the most successful
His casual, personable introduction leads into impeccable snapshots of
Kevin Rudd talking about “Me, me, me”, a creaky-voiced John Howard, an arrogant
Kochy, and Julia Gillard singing Eye of the Tiger with her painfully bent
After live tasters of these characters, they reappear on video in full
make-up, wig and costume, providing hilarious eulogies for McCarthy, the man
who tormented them with his parodies.
Interrupting his own analysis of his identity crisis, McCarthy becomes
Dr. Phil who chastises him with dubious pop psychology.
With uncanny accuracy, McCarthy faultlessly captures the vocal and
physical qualities of these people, heightens their idiosyncrasies and makes
them believable parodies.
There is more comic mileage in McCarthy’s facts about Catholicism and he
could happily do more singing because his Boy George is a delight.
It is a joy to witness McCarthy’s exceptional talent but he could
tighten the jokes and sculpt the show into shape.