From gastromancers in ancient Greece, to Fred Sutton in 1886, to David Strassman’s dummy Chuck telling David something wildly inappropriate involving self-copulation – ventriloquism has no shortage of history behind it.
Part stand-up routine, part theatrical comedy, iTedE speaks about that history being under threat by modern technology and sensibilities. In the show, the character of David Strassman has been asked to perform a TED talk, so with the help of the characters in his workshop he plans on talking about imagination.
Like any of the stage arts, ventriloquism requires imagination from an audience willing to suspend their disbelief, for it to engage and entertain. This is threatened in the present day, but he’s not quite sure how to go about talking about it, To-be-sure, his artificial menagerie (bear, child, alien, beaver, older bear, and clown that looks like a terrifying mix between Pennywise and Annabelle) aren’t helping.
As someone who watched Strassman years ago in New Zealand on television, this was a real treat. Strassman is an excellent performer, who had a great rapport with the audience from the start. His interactions with Ted-E Bear were probably the best of the bunch, although all were funny. There was the odd too-easy laugh gained by just having one of the dummies unexpectedly swear (besides Chuck), but thankfully this wasn’t resorted to very often.
A neat addition to the show has been Strassman’s ability to control his ‘cast’ via remote, freeing him to wander elsewhere on stage if needed, making for a more organic performance. This show was a genuine delight.
David Strassman: iTedE
Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 30 September 2016 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 15 October
iTedE will also tour to selected venues throughout Victoria: 19 – 30 October 2016. For more information, visit: www.davidstrassman.com for details.
Image: David Strassman and Friends – photo by Adam Shane
Review: David Collins