30 April 2009

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2009
Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Justin Hamilton
7 April 2009
Melbourne Town Hall

Totally blowing me away this festival are artists who are grabbing their genre and recreating its form. There will always be an audience for disposable stand-up rants, but Justin Hamilton is one stand-up who knows we deserve more and trusted himself to create it.

A love story that soars and hurts as much as love, and a love story about Melbourne (where so many wanderers have found home), Goodbye Ruby Tuesday is intelligent and surprising story telling, that combines theatre with stand up as originally and perfectly as the first person who added chilli to chocolate.

As Jason Harrington, Hamilton explores and satirises stand-up, himself and punters who don’t get that it’s all an act. But it’s really Ruby’s story. Hamilton wrote Goodbye Ruby Tuesday for Adelaide actor Hannah Norris. Obsessively organised, stuck in work hell and desperately lonely, Ruby finds herself at her first ever stand-up gig and meets Jason, who sends her back to “boredom, obsessive roundabouts and Fyshwick” (aka Canberra) for her school reunion.

In a festival overflowing with amazing writing, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday rises to top. I’d love to see it develop in a theatre season, but it’s designed to travel, with content that can adapt and change (Facebook may be the new comedy black this year, but will be beige before we know it), a rock-solid story base and awe-inspiring performances from Hamilton and Norris that ensure that Jason and Ruby will continue to touch the hearts of anyone who meets them.

I remember Hamilton when he was doing any gig he could get in Adelaide. He was sweet, funny and a bit scared to let go of the microphone and move. Ten years later ... WOW. It takes grunt, determination and hundreds of gigs to be this good. It’s a great reminder to let emerging performers make mistakes and remember that experience can turn comedians into artists.
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.