Saturday, October 13, 2012

Melbourne Fringe: Trying Hard (Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall)

The beauty and the terror of Fringe Festivals everywhere is the sheer volume and variety of what's on offer.  I've often thought it would be great to take a week off (with the weekend on either side) and just go and gorge myself at the Melbourne Fringe, but four shows a day for nine days is still only 36 shows, which is only about one-tenth of the programme.  So choosing what to see is either vitally important or virtually irrelevant - I went the latter route and aimed for (a) what fit around my work schedule and (b) was near my hotel.

And thus I squeaked in to the Tuxedo Cat just in time for Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall's one-man show Trying Hard. A room in a barely-converted office space was nearly full with a very friendly crowd when Tremblay-Birchall hopped on to the stage in a giant amoeba costume. Yes, the first part of the show was about evolution - and the continuing layers of costume, one beneath another, were crude but clever (and the retro-style sign his friend made him was very professional). Tremblay-Birchall's material here was not entirely comfortable, it seemed to me: the theme was how each character badly wanted to become something else, became that thing, and regretted it (despite still loving that thing); the awkward but unavoidable subtext appeared to be that he regrets leaving engineering for comedy. An easy thing to understand for anyone who's tried to make a living from their bliss only to find commerce sucks the joy out of it.

His second half was more conventional stand-up, and funnier, though he fell back on some very well-used tropes (yes, male genitalia is HILARIOUS!). He clearly had a lot of supporters in the room, but he got some genuine laughter from me too. If I happened to be passing his next gig I might well stick my head in, but I probably won't prioritise it at my next Fringe foray - there's just too much else to choose from!

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