Thursday, 5 April 2018

Stephen K Amos in Bread and Circuses, April 4, 208 ***1/2

Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne, until April 22, 2018 
Stars: ***1/2 
International act (UK) 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Thurs April 5, 2018. KH

Each generation finds ways to distract itself from the politics and other horrors of its era, and, in Bread and Circuses, Stephen K Amos gets comedy mileage by contrasting his childhood distractions with those of the tech-savvy millennials.

The Ancient Romans distracted disgruntled citizens with food (bread) and gladiatorial fight clubs (circuses), and Amos's own childhood diversions included board games such as Cluedo, whereas young people today immerse themselves in iPhones, Facebook, Instagram and Reality TV.

To prove his point, a young woman seated in front of this reviewer kept scanning her Facebook feed then played a video of another idiot cooking muffins! Really! Bring back the gladiators, I say!

Amos lounges casually, leaning on his microphone stand and mercilessly teasing audience members who call out inanities, or take four seconds too long to get at a joke. He gets laughs out of hassling the crowd for messing up his ‘rhythm’.

He has a mischievous grin as he rambles comfortably from topic to topic: Donald Trump, traffic jams, redheads, guinea pigs, Bob Katter, Barnaby Joyce, and Amos’s own dad's inability to wrangle technology.

Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein get a big serve of criticism, and Amos also provides an interesting take on the superhero movie, Black Panther, and on other race-related issues.

Amos's comedy is intelligent but sometimes scathing and, even when the audience response is not what he expects or desires, he laughs at himself and the crowd, then gets back into the rhythm again.

By Kate Herbert

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