A series of gags can be fine, but sometimes you want a story you can get your teeth into. Canadian comic Mae Martin has a go at this through an autobiographical account of obsessions and addictions in her new show, Dope.
The show is so new that Martin had an ongoing discussion with the audience at this preview performance on whether bits should stay or go. Many performers wouldn’t be able to go off-script with such ease, which clearly demonstrates Martin’s confidence and competence.
The show itself begins with Martin recounting a conversation with her Mum about not feeling highs and lows as strongly as she used to. Mum’s advice was that this could be because, unusually, she’s not addicted to anything right now.
This thought leads Martin to trace the patterns of her life, from her first obsession around age 6 – Bette Midler. Martin had an unnatural keenness for Midler’s witch role in 1993’s film Hocus Pocus. Many in the crowd found particular delight in the return of the Divine Miss M at various times in Martin’s story.
We trace through Martin’s quirky teenage years and addiction to stand-up comedy, and experimentation with drugs (making The Powder Room an apt venue?!) that quickly escalated. Yes, some found laughs, but Martin doesn’t tell us about any serious consequences of her behaviour. This gave her accounts an unsatisfyingly sanitised feel at times.
Martin crams in some old stuff you might have seen on appearances such as Live At The Apollo on how she’s a “girl” but looks like Niall from One Direction. People enjoyed this, but it takes up space that could otherwise be used to add depth to the main story.
Martin gave silly stories and accents in a very energetic performance. Whilst appreciating this, hard-core comedy junkies might find the show doesn’t give them the buzz they crave. Based on the consistent laughter of review night though, more recreational users will probably find that Dope gets them a good high.
Mae Martin – Dope
Powder Room – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 31 March 2017 – 9.45pm (preview)
Season continues to 23 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Mae Martin (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte