28 September 2007

Was It a Cat I Saw

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2007
Was It a Cat I Saw

Luke Whitby
Friday 28 September 2007
Fringe Hub


Luke Whitby certainly loves his words. He loves playing with them and he loves letting lots and lots of them come out of his mouth. Was It a Cat I Saw (it’s a palindrome) is his stand up show about his obsession with words.

Luke’s word play is clever and funny. He’s amiable, engaging and makes his audience feel very comfortable very quickly. He admits he used to be a performance poet and was rather fond of a self indulgent poetic rant. He shared some of his bad poems. All present agreed with Luke’s opinion that he is much better stand up than poet.

This is a show for anyone who has had the religious experience of new stationery from Office Works (why don’t those coloured pens I bought make me write better?), wondered if a call centre operator just swore at you, listened to heavy metal for the lyrics, found themselves at a poetry reading, wondered if God has a my space page or was bored/geeky enough to devise anagrams at work.

There is far too much material in the show. There’s actually enough for two or three good shows. Including it all results in a loss of direction, coherence and pace. He had a perfect ending with an improvised palindrome movie trailer, but then brought the show back to the opening with another joke about Office Works. Full circle is a great structure, but not if you’ve climaxed already.

Ironically, Luke is most comfortable performing his poetry (see this show for "You Are My Godzilla and I am Your Tokyo"). He’s less comfortable as himself. NEVER open a show with “I hope you like it”. Audiences desperately want to like shows; so come out, be confident and show us how good you are. I felt that Luke’s material could work much better if he developed a character to work from. He’s admits to being a nerdy, metal loving, anagram making, call centre worker, but just comes across as a nice guy who’s a little bit nervous.

Luke has some great material about his past obsession with heavy metal lyrics. He supports it beautifully with pictures and words, but we don’t hear a note. I’ll forgive him for not including They Might Be Giants’s song "I Palindrome I", but you can’t do metal material without some soundtrack. There is a similar problem with the final Office Works gag. It’s a great story, but is obviously fictitious and so less powerful without the pen case. Just get something that could be the case and the joke will be so much more effective.

PS The best anagram I could find for my name is “Admire, Near a Pen”. I did the lazy way.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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