Fringe World – Trygve Wakenshaw & Barnie Duncan: Different Party

Fringe World Different Party Trygve Wakenshaw and Barnie DuncanDifferent Party is mental. Absolutely mental. It’s probably the best thing I have seen in awhile. I presume the lady sitting behind me, who giggled raucously and nonstop into my right earhole throughout the entire 60 minutes, found so too.

An anarchic corporate bromance set in a parallel universe dark and dizzyingly surreal, this physical comedy double act flips the humdrum suit-and-tie life to hit total euphoria. It stars two New Zealand based performers, already Fringe World legends in their own solo show rights.

There’s Trygve Wakenshaw of Squidboy, Kraken, and (most recently) Nautilus fame – a flop-haired lanky-man dude whom the Guardian has hailed as “the new king of silent comedy”. And there’s the less-lanky, more fiendish-looking Barrie Duncan, better known as Juan Vesuvius – the cummerbund-wearing hyperactive turn-tabler from his popular Calypso Nights routine.

The shebang takes place on the other side of the La Soiree tent, inside the odd but fitting Burt Memorial Hall. Business cards are formally distributed to the audience as we bustle in, equipped as one must always be for a Fringe act (with beers). The card reads: Rucks’s Leather Interiors.

Grareth Krubb (Wakenshaw) and Dennis Chang (Duncan) are both deputy account consultant specialists at Rucks’. “Imagine a room covered in skin,” says Grareth into a constantly ringing, Lynchian red phone. “Is that a room you’d like to live in?” It is the company’s brand slogan, occasionally followed by a rap.

Getting clients is a difficult business though. Simply occupying the office is a difficult business. We find that if an object or action is suggestive of another – say, if the spraying crumbs of a wafer biscuit suggest cigar smoke – transformation occurs. Wafers are puffed; sucked bic pens become candidates for fellatio.

The slightest change in the equilibrium brings about chaos, and what in any other workplace is rote, dull and regimented skitters about in a delirium. Other bizarre scenes for our eyeballs include: mugs smashed idly into waste bins; a cow slaughtered in the middle of the room to upholster a chair; and in the frenzied search for a pen to jot down a number, Dennis foraging blindly through a teeming mass of them, only to resort to tattooing the digits into Krubb’s back. Even their suitcases are overexcitable mongrels, romping about the stage and sniffing at any crotch available.

Nothing would be assured if the pair didn’t work so well off each other. The actors seem to share some kindred dysfunction in relation to normality; they are of one and the same deranged mind. Most significant, however, is the affection that the two characters hold for each other. Their earnestness, and the fumbling homosensuality of their proximal sweaty bodies, not only adds to the humour. It checks the rampant violence with an underlying sweetness, beautiful and absurd.

Trygve Wakenshaw & Barnie Duncan: Different Party is where it’s at. Or at least where it was: the Fringe World Perth show ended on Saturday. Here’s to hoping they’ll come back soon to P-town, to upholster imaginations in skin once again.

Trygve Wakenshaw & Barnie Duncan: Different Party
Burt Memorial Hall, Cathedral Square, Perth
Performance: Saturday 11 February 2017
Season: 6 – 11 February 2017

Image: Barnie Duncan and Trygve Wakenshaw (supplied)

Review: Kate Prendergast