Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Michael Workman in War, April 1, 2014 ****

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 
Regent Room, Melbourne Town Hall until April 20, 2014 
Star rating:****
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Review also online at Herald Sun.KH
Michael Workman is both a whimsical comedian and an extraordinary storyteller whose metaphysical musings and metaphorical storytelling cannot be pigeonholed.

He weaves smart and very funny gags amidst a fantastical tale of a painfully thin, morphine-addled news correspondent who travels to a war zone to report on a bomb that will start people dreaming again.

Workman stands comfortably alone on stage with only imaginary props, design and music to accompany him; even the Scotch he sips is mimed and his invisible stool gets its own laughs.

His show defies genre and, he says, “Is a complex metaphor for the genesis and extinction of self-awareness.”

Workman makes the audience roar laughing at ordinary things viewed through a distorted lens, then draws us in to his bizarre story with his compelling presence, idiosyncratic style, vivid characterisation and atmospheric conjuring of location.

He starts with a swift, witty parody of vaudeville-style jokes – “He was so thin. How thin was he?” – then the gags roll into observations about Happy Meals, relationships, cougars, people talking to babies, smoking, or a train driver’s incomprehensible voice message.

The collision of unlikely concepts and Workman’s beautifully crafted, lyrical language are the signatures of his unusual and totally magical comedy.

In his war story, people stopped dreaming or forgot how to dream, so Workman obliges us to muse on the nature of existence and to create new myths about life on earth. Heady stuff – but funny.

By Kate Herbert

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