Sydney-sider Steen Raskopolous has won comedy awards, studied improvisation overseas, and toured his sketch comedy shows around for some years. If he’s unfamiliar, what to think if you saw an ad for his show Friendly Stranger?
As his MICF blurb says: “A friendly stranger is just another way of saying a new friend you haven’t met yet.” Certainly, some audience members would get close to the performer before too long.
Raksopolous has had a busy time, such as through recently appearing in Netflix shows The Duchess and Feel Good. It’s been about five years since his last new show. Friendly Stranger is a series of sketches, and we would return to some storylines across the hour.
We might think that the show’s name is apt, as Raskopolous introduced himself with a goofy kind of energy. Things can change pretty quickly though as we plunge into an American crime story, and a tale of a father (maybe from the Bronx?) who will do just about anything to gain his school-aged son’s approval. Our performer shows himself quite capable of adapting his manner and voice to project menace.
This provides an amusing contrast with other scenes, such as when an acclaimed actor finds himself working in a very different kind of medium. There’s also some extremely competitive “Simon Says”.
Raskopolous is a smooth operator, and convinced various audience members to join him in scenes. It’s a testament to his skills that he could adapt to the quirks punters brought to the stage, even making call-backs out of these contributions.
This is a well-produced show that effectively used lighting and sound effects to heighten the dramatic and comedic moments. Those wondering how dark scenes can lead to silly fun might find this Friendly Stranger has some curious new angles to offer your MICF campaign.
Steen Raskopolous: Friendly Stranger
ACMI (Swinburne Studio), Federation Square, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 7 April 2023 – 7:30pm
Season continues to 23 April 2023
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Steen Raskopolous (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte