30 October 2006

Living On The Edge...Of My Bed

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2006
Living On The Edge...Of My Bed

The Bedroom Philosopher
Vanilla Productions

3 October 2006
Festival Hub, Lithuanian Club


I don’t know if Living On The Edge...Of My Bed is fumbling improvisation or the base of what could be an ingenious character. Either way, the show didn’t hit its stride the night I saw it.

Justin Heazlewood is The Bedroom Philosopher, but is The Bedroom Philosopher Justin Heazlewood? There was a lot of authentic and original material, but also a lot of confusion between the character and the performer. Neither were consistently on the stage. The Philosopher seemed to sing the songs and Justin appeared in between. I wanted to like either of them, but the appearance of one, made you frustrated by the other.

The Bedroom Philosopher has an active following through his radio and short appearances. He performs some terrific songs. The ones about buying mmmmdoms at the chemist, being over girls and his nan loving Radiohead are very funny and perfect devices for showing the Philosopher and his journey. The physical humour also supports the character (the harmonica gags are very special). Then there is the bizarre and surreal Swan song – all three versions. Bizarre is funny, but it doesn’t add to our understanding of the character. Bizarre needs context to really work.

I’ve said a lot recently about shows that reach a general audience by aiming at a specific audience. I have no idea who The Bedroom Philosopher is talking to. Characters work best when the audience understand them, like them and are taken on a journey with them. We love the fumbly nervous characters because we empathise with their weaknesses, but the empathy only comes though an understanding of who they are.

There are some great moments in Living On The Edge...Of My Bed, but they are just static moments that don’t come together as a full-length show. Letting the Philosopher (rather than Justin) control the show may lead to the cohesion and empathy that are missing.

My next show on this evening was Stephen K Amos – he played a character and then appeared as himself. Each knew exactly who they were when they were on stage. Stand up comedy can and should be this good. He had me at hello and I laughed non-stop with about 400 other people for over an hour. If you love and respect your audience, you can take the piss out of them and they come with you every step of the way.

 
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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