Once you walk through the doors of The World Famous Spiegel Tent at Melbourne’s Arts Centre it feels like you have been taken back to the early 1900s and are at Paris’ famous Moulin Rouge. As you take your seat you are waiting for the performers to take the stage and mesmerise you with amazing feats all while making you laugh – yes as a venue the Spiegel Tent is the perfect venue for brand new show Dumtectives In Cirque Noir.
The show is the brain-child of comedic circus troupe Dummies Corp who have been wowing audiences with shows such as Trash Test Dummies over recent years. But while their previous shows have been family friendly Dumtectives certainly isn’t.
With this show the talented Amy Nightingale-Olsen, Thomas McDonald and Leigh Rhodes step into the world of classic film noir detectives… the only problem is they are not very good the whole ‘being a detective’ thing. That doesn’t stop them stepping in to investigate the murder of an innocent man, who due to a weird chalk-outline drawing may or may not have two penises.
The show itself is a mix of comedy, cabaret and brilliant circus skills. At times while watching the show I found myself thinking about Dracula’s Gold Coast shows…. and I mean that with the best possible intention… every time I go to the Gold Coast I am one of the first in line at the doors of Dracula’s.
Like Dracula’s here the Dumtectives team find the right mix of comedy and circus acts while not forgetting that it is also okay to be a little cheeky. To their credit they do not go over-the-top with the sexual side of things – no, the team purely use it for a laugh, a dick joke here, a person in drag here… just harmless fun really that is guaranteed to make the audience laugh.
As I have already mentioned this is a team that knows how to make the audience laugh – Nightingale-Olsen reaches some terrifying heights and certainly has the crowd opened mouth in awe as she is thrown around the stage throughout the show in various stunning acrobatic moves. Meanwhile Leigh Rhodes steals a lot of the laughs with his brilliant comedic timing while Thomas McDonald is the base of every human pyramid (yes he does the heavy lifting) and show a real flare for slap-stick.
There are so many moments of this show that will have you sitting there thinking ‘wow, how did they do that?’ I am still marvelling at the puppetry skills of David Splatt while the circus skills of the whole troupe left me completely mesmerised throughout the show. That combined with how many times I laughed throughout the night certainly attests to the fact that I had a great night.
Few teams can mix comedy and circus skills together the way that Dummies Corp can and once again they have produced a real winner with Dumtectives In Cirque Noir. This is a show that will leave you stunned at the level of skill required for the performance that is happening right in front of you, and that is further enhanced by the intimate session, and will also have you laughing all night. This is one of the best shows of this year’s festival.
One of my great pleasures in life is watching British Comedy. As people who will know me will attest to I am a huge fan of the modern day British comedy scene – I am a tragic for shows like 8 Of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Mock Of The Week but what a lot of people don’t realise is that I am also a huge fan of old school British comedy. Even today while my friends pull out shows like Friends or Big Bang Theory I am more at home sitting down to watch Keeping Up Appearances, Birds Of A Feather or Hale & Pace.
It is because of that love of British Comedy that I think I enjoyed the new show Don’t Trust Me I’m A Dentist so much when I got to see it last night at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Put together by talented performers Amir Rahimzadeh, known for his work both here and in the UK, and Sharon Heywood, who is known for both her screen and stage work, Don’t Trust Me I’m A Dentist is pure old school British comedy with a modern twist.
Directed by Australian screen legend Roz Hammond (Muriel’s Wedding) Don’t Trust Me I’m A Dentist mixes comedy with tragedy in a way that only the British seem to be able to pull out successfully. The show centres around two main characters Dr Ronnie Ramirez (Rahimzadeh) and his dental nurse Yvette (Heywood). The show chronicles their journey from Ramirez being a fresh-faced young dentist excited to have his own practice into a career that soon shows him the downside of choosing dentistry as a profession.
The story comes together brilliantly well enhanced by both Rahimzadeh and Heywood playing other side characters when they need to – and in fact it is often these other characters that steal the show. It is going to take me a long time to forget about characters that included an old lady flasher, a nymphomaniac chocoholic and an old man who got a little ‘too excited’ while in the dentist chair.
The power of this show though lays in the fact that it can mix comedic moments with that of a tragic story, yes in a sense this show has aspects of Shakespeare all over it. The strength of the writing grouped together by two strong acting performances and a good use of modern technology results in a show that really does bring up some very important topics. It was in the moments after watching this show that I realised that dentistry must be one of the hardest professions going around… imagine turning up to a job everyday where the general consensus in the community is that the person themselves should be feared and is largely hated (if I am completely honest).
Don’t Trust Me I’m A Dentist is an amazing piece of theatre that reveals the brilliance of Amir Rahimzadeh and Sharon Heywood while telling a story that both entertains and makes you think. This is a show that will be enjoyed by theatre lovers and comedy fans alike.
When it comes to comedians that make me laugh I must admit that comedians that are natural story-tellers often have a huge advantage over those that aren’t. Until recently I couldn’t pin-point what it was that made it that way – but recently I was able to put my finger on it… it is because they are more natural with their style and with their delivery.
Last night I was lucky enough to see one of those natural story-telling comedians work their magic in the flesh at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. That comedian was Kenyan born, but now proud Aussie, Vincent Tshaka who I must admit so far takes the prize for the comedian that has made me laugh the most at this year’s festival.
Tshaka natural story-telling ability won me over from the very beginning and I very quickly came to realise that listening to him talk isn’t like watching a comedian up on a stage it is like sitting down and chatting to a friend… that is just how natural he is.
With his show at this year’s comedy festival – Australianised – Tshaka takes the audience on a laugh filled conversation of what it has been like for him since he arrived in Australia from Kenya. He tells brilliant stories about getting used to fast food in Australia and points out all of those quirky sayings that we have as Aussies that have tripped up over the years – things like “oh yeah, bring a plate.”
When it comes to audience interaction I don’t think I have ever seen a comedian that does it so well as Tshaka. He frequently will ask an audience member a question such as “where were you born” or “are you two married” but he does in such a natural way that it feels like a genuine conversation and the result is the audience feels comfortable – even when he asked a young vegan why she became a vegan you could tell the audience member was completely ease – there were certainly no deer in headlights moments within the audience when he turned his attention to them.
I guess the one thing left to say about Vincent’s show is go and see it now at the Meat Market because it is very obvious that he is the next big thing in Australian comedy. It might take a year or two but I am predicting that Vincent Tshaka will be having his own comedy television specials and be performing at the Arts Centre in the future. This is one show not to be missed at this year’s festival.