Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 24 May 2018
Barry Humphries, May 23, 2018 ****
COMEDY The Man
Behind the Mask At Hamer
Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, until May 26, 2018 Reviewer:
Kate Herbert Stars: ****
published in Herald Sun Arts online on Thus May 24, 2018 & later in print
(Fri 25 May). KH
look at Barry. He’s drawing attention to himself,’ said Barry Humphries’ mother
when he was a child.
made a wildly successful career of drawing attention to himself and, in Barry Humphries: The Man Behind the Mask, rather than playing his infamous characters,
he uses personal, sometimes revealing storytelling to allow his audience into
the life and mind of the man himself.
show is not gut-wrenching, laughter-inducing comedy but, rather, a relaxed,
fireside chat with Humphries directly addressing the audience as he lounges in
a leather armchair, strolls across the stage, or leans on the piano to
reminisce with his long-term accompanist, Andrew Ross.
cuts a dashing figure, sporting a fuchsia jacket drawn across his ample girth,
and, before telling stories of celebrity and success, he reveals funny or intimate
snippets about his childhood in Camberwell, his critical, superior mother and generous
dad, and his school days where he bullied and was bullied.
spins yarns about his life as a university dropout and aspiring, but badly cast
actor with the Union Theatre Repertory (now Melbourne Theatre Company), touring
bumpy productions of Shakespeare and Noel Coward.
stories are peppered with acerbic comments, witty repartee, and Australianisms
that, sadly, have gone out of fashion, such as ‘You don’t know me from a bar of
course, fans are hanging out for a visit from the vain and volatile Dame Edna
Everage, so Humphries delights fans by relating Edna’s evolution from dowdy,
suburban Aussie woman into Housewife Superstar.
highlights are video excerpts of Edna’s outrageous chat show, her gob-smacked
guests, Royal Command performance and the unforgettable interview that
dissolved Michael Parkinson into giggles.
tells tall tales and true of intrusive fans, and revisits – on video –other favourite
characters: boozy Sir Les Patterson and poignant Sandy Stone.
Australians will recognise people, places, expressions and attitudes as Humphries
talks about his past in Melbourne, but this show is a tribute to Humphries’
life and achievements and should appeal to fans of all ages.