We’re all familiar with the concept of off-Broadway shows, but is there such a thing as off-campus university revues? That’s what this fun little show a stone’s throw from Melbourne University feels like.
On a humble stage, with a handful of props that look like $2-shop bargains, and plenty of goofy sound effects and pre-recorded dialogue, the cast of one wears a very casual approximation of a tuxedo – including black tracky-dacks.
Though the audience is always in on the joke of this hour called One Man Performing A Two-Man Show, the conceit is that Jon Walpole expects fellow performer Tim will be along any minute. Meanwhile, he mines the comic potential of scenarios such as a solo trust fall and karaoke duet.
Walpole wisely doesn’t exhaust that mine, however. He delivers a diverse, often inventive and kooky series of sketches and monologues, with a sprinkling of physical comedy, music and on-stage audience participation (so if that’s not your thing sit somewhere less accessible).
In reality there is a second man in this show: sound-and-lights guy, James, whom Jon calls upon to provide updates about Tim’s whereabouts. His audio is also often crucial, including in a madcap feud with some invisible tiny people. An apparent problem with some pre-recorded dialogue did briefly muddle the performance I attended, however.
Despite One Man Performing A Two-Man Show’s abandonment set-up and modest space, lanky, long-haired Walpole has an underlying confidence that quickly gets the audience on side. It’s the kind of confidence that has fuelled university revues since time immemorial, derived from youth, education and white, male privilege.
I hasten to add that Walpole carries that privilege very lightly. Unlike the old school of nasty white guy stand-up comedians, he plays nice, making fun of himself with a well-developed and endearing sense of absurdist humour.
Jon Walpole: One Man Performing A Two-Man Show
The Motley Bauhaus, 118 Elgin Street, Carlton
Performance: Monday 17 April 2023
Season continues to 23 April 2023
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Jon Walpole (supplied)
Review: Patricia Maunder