The Listies 6D (It’s twice as good as 3D).
Written, directed and starring Richard Higgins and Matthew Kelly. Regional Arts Victoria. The Q Theatre. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. January 12-14 2017.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
You need to be switched on to a certain type of humour to really appreciate the comedy of The Listies. But then maybe I am just a Grumpy Old Gramps There’s no doubt that the young audience lapped up the lavatory humour from the opening fart and burp fanfare, giggled as “snot” shot across the stage, groaned as “vomit” spurted forth from a puppet’s mouth, screamed out in terror on cue, hurled teatowels at Nan and laughed out loud at the antics of Fall Guy Matt and Straight Man Rich.
The two stand-up comedians introduce a 6D (It’s twice as good as 3D) concept of the movies to entertain the audience from five to eighty. They teach the kids about the ratings of G,M,PG, R and a couple of their own – VAH (Vomit Arthouse), and their rating S for Stupid. And stupid it is! For an hour, actors Matthew Kelly and Richard Higgins spin out a string of stupid scenarios including an horrible Horror Movie, Curse of the Back Pack and their own clumsy concoction All Nanas Are Ninjas, with lots of participation to hold the interest and keep the young audience moving as Nan’s helpful minions.. Sure it is all wacky and weird and meaningless fun, relying on audience suggestions and participation to eke out a fishing line thin plotline to hook the audience and reel them in.
There is some clever stuff. Rich is turned into a puppet for eating a banana after midnight in Curse of the Backpack. The puppet bears a striking resemblance to Ernie of Muppet fame. There is clever play on words of a list of movie titles, such as Ironingman, Hairy Potter or Mary Poopins.And in a spectacular finale Rich and Matt snowmachine reamss of toilet paper over the audience. I barely raise a smile and I feel sorry for the boy who eagerly raises his hand only to be dejected when another member of the audience is chosen to be the evil Dr. Fluffles, Nan’s terrifying Nemesis.
Maybe I’m being unfair. If the kids were having a good time, isn’t that all that matters? After all, in the tradition of Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Morecombe and Wise, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis or Lano and Woodley, Kelly makes the ideal stupid, camp buffoon and Higgins his suffering companion. The show has been created to cover all the giggle and hoot things that make a young audience excited to be at a show. It keeps the show to an hour and structures it with a clear concept that includes all the gags, slapstick and mistakes that make an audience cleverer than the stupid characters on stage. All in all it’s a recipe for success – silly and senseless.
It’s refreshingly cool in the theatre, so I can’t blame my indifference on the oppressive heat outside The Q Theatre. Maybe I am too intellectually snobbish and would have liked a stronger plot line and varying moods, rather than a spewed out sequence of deliberately contrived devices to make an audience laugh. And what’s wrong with that? Perhaps nothing, but I would have liked something more challenging and original from two obviously able actors.
There are certainly enough reports to declare me to be a stuffy wet blanket. With the 2008 Melbourne Fringe Award for Best Emerging Producers, the 2013 Sydney Theatre Award for Best Production For Children and critical comments such as “If your kids have never been to the theatre before, do them a favour and make this their first experience. It’s something they’ll never forget.” The Scotsman.
So, who am I to judge? Let the audience judge for themselves. And the verdict is clear. The peals of laughter and squeals of excitement from the young audience rated me stupid for wanting something more from The Listies 6D.