In recent times, I’ve quite enjoyed English comedian Russell Kane’s television spots. Last performing at MICF in 2011 and claiming the Barry Award, Kane brings his ‘Australian Premiere’ show Smallness to Melbourne for the festival’s 2015 instalment. If you’ve enjoyed Kane’s appearances on shows such as Live at the Apollo, or like a comic with a gift for accents and reproducing national stereotypes, you may appreciate this offering.
Maybe in this age of TV specials (never mind the internet) ‘Australian Premiere’ is a depreciated term. Some won’t mind at all having already seen Kane’s funniest material in electronic form, but some might have inadvertently exposed themselves to spoilers. As for the show itself, this second preview performance didn’t manage to elucidate the title.
There were some brief pockets aimed at this purpose, such as when Kane gave his theory on the stages of life; we’re always looking forward to the next one only to regret the stage we’ve left once we get there. But by and large, this show leant on his shtick of hyperactive prancing around the stage (which gets a bit old by the end), and making fun of English attitudes from the posh to the working class.
Kane points out that the English have an all-or-nothing attitude to partying (with violent excesses) unlike the more moderate Aussie way of enjoying ourselves throughout the week. This setup gives Kane the chance to contrast his toff and chav English accents against a recognisable Strine twang. The slight problem is that – unlike Kane’s previous performances – we don’t get much beyond recognisable stereotypes.
In the past, Kane’s appeal has come from taking a situation into a ridiculous, yet still plausible, realm. On viewing a TV spot, I remember laughing so hard at his imagined discussion between a north Queensland couple where a desperate husband asked his wife to help find his funeral shorts. Smallness has some amusing moments, without recapturing that sense of satire.
The decision to invite substantial audience interaction didn’t help the show on the review night. Much of the byplay didn’t lead anywhere, and it certainly wasn’t connected into the whole “like a sociological Ross Noble” as Kane promised.
Certainly sections of the crowd appreciated much of Kane’s silliness with choreography. I was expecting to laugh out loud, but found the show didn’t get much above amusing. Smallness might be best suited to those who haven’t seen Kane’s moves before, or those who like his exuberant style of physical comedy and want more of the same.
MICF: Russell Kane – Smallness
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 9 April 2015 – 9.00pm
Season continues to 17 April 2015
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Russell Kane (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte