Kieran Bullock’s IKEA WARS

MF22-Kieran-Bullock's-Ikea-WarsPeople competing to solve problems and complete a task has given us memorable offerings such as the UK TV show Taskmaster, and the format has spread to other countries.

A Melbourne-based actor / comedian had a similar, more low-rent, idea – set two contestants against the clock to build a piece of flat-pack furniture in Kieran Bullock’s Ikea Wars and see what ensues.

For shows in the last three years, Kiwi Bullock made the furniture himself, giving the audience his “stream of consciousness” impressions. Now he’s the host of a challenge/game show.

Bullock explained the set of eight cards from which competitors could each choose three. These cards could help the player, or hinder their opponent, and seem a smart way to permit the challenge to unfold in different ways across the season.

On this night the competitors were both from a Melbourne Improv group The Big Hoo Haa – Jeremy Hughes and Jon Walpole. These gents seemed slow to let go of their interest in improvisation, given that instructions for the kitchen trolley needing assembly were not consulted all that often.

After their time on Taskmaster, competitors have talked about the balance of entertainment value against a genuine attempt at a puzzle. From the action here, the competitors seemed to be feigning a lack of competence in a fairly simple construction task. It might be that a more complex project would give the hour more of a sense of genuine competition.

However, the audience were clearly engaged with proceedings, willingly offering advice, or critique, even when it wasn’t asked for. The competitors bumbling produced amusement, and The Fishbowl venue – being a small room with a tiny stage, allowed everyone to be close to the action, with some associated OH&S concerns. Bullock was an effective host, having good banter with the contestants and audience.

The strategy component using those advantage/penalty cards was somewhat uneven and may develop further across the season. However, at its best, card play led to some manic activity and good laughs.

Melbournians have had plenty of serious stuff to deal with for the last couple of years. The antidote might just be the kind of frivolous, loose fun we can find in an 8:30pm Fringe show like Kieran Bullock’s Ikea Wars, a useful addition to a night at Trades Hall.

Kieran Bullock’s IKEA WARS
Trades Hall – The Fishbowl, Corner Lygon & Victoria Streets, Carlton
Performance: Friday 7 October 2022 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 23 October 2022
Information and Bookings:

Image: Kieran Bullock’s Ikea Wars (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte