06 October 2010

Review: Accidents are Prohibited on This Road

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2010
Accidents are Prohibited on This Road
Russell McGilton
5 October 2010
Cabaret Voltaire,  Fringe Hub
to 10 October
There is little as boring an someone else's travel stories. The main reason backpackers have so much sex is that fellow-travellers shag them to stop them sharing their tedious stories. So when I realised that Russell McGlinton was sharing his 20-year-old backpacking stories, I thought of sneaking out.

Glad I didn't, because Russell is the exception to the rule. He also appreciates that most of us would rather have travellers diarrhoea than listen to backpacking tales, so he ensures that he tells good story. But I'm not forgiving an opening joke about the Grand Final and the federal election being a draw. You're a much smarter, more original and funnier man than that Russell – and so is your audience.

 Accidents are Prohibited on This Road is one of the many English-gone-wrong signs he saw in India and the show is a selection of his first backpacking trip tales from when he was 20 – 20 years ago, when he had hair. It's the follow up to the popular Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle.

Russell's easy manner of talking with his audience, which included a front row of 20-something backpackers, quickly put his audience at ease and eager to join in,  and he has a quick enough wit to get himself in and out of trouble. (FYI,  Russell found out that Germans still aren't ready for jokes about them bombing London).

This is the kind of story telling that has probably got him many free pints,  and if you're expecting boring dinner guests, Russell would be the ideal bloke to invite so that the conversation never slowed and everyone is too busy laughing to notice that you've served them frozen Lean Cuisines and cask wine.

Accidents is loosely structured around the need to escape a psycho girlfriend. Young Rusty headed to London (where folk are rude), Scotland (where folk talk funny) and Kenya (where folk are sexy or violent and talk funny). Here he doesn't do too well with the women, which may have something to do with him only meeting strange women. In fact, none of the women in this show were shown in any positive light.

For all its great telling and funny stories, there's a lot unsaid in this show. I kept asking myself why a 40-something was telling 20-year-old stories and why his "self-reflection" slides were as personal and meaningful as a fortune cookie. Accidents are Prohibited on This Road is as fun as drinking pints with mates at your favourite pub, but would become a much gutsier show if Russell dropped the fun-dude mask to reveal something of himself, show why he's still telling old stories, and let us know how 20-odd years have changed him or if he's met a woman who isn't a complete freak.

This review appears on AussieTheatre.com.

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