Ah comedy fest. This year it’s started earlier than normal. In fact my first show was before the Comedy Fest has even started at all. I saw Seven Deadly Stunts last night at Circa 2 and had a ball.
The show starts Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman as they walk the audience through “seven of the most notorious stunts in carnie history”, where they not only do the stunts but also give you a wee bit of backstory behind each one.
It’s dinner and a show! Or rather it’s entertainment and information. But not in a boring way where someone might describe it as “infotainment” and you stop listening from that point because fuck that word. It’s genuinely entertaining.
A lot of the stunts rely on building sufficient tension in the room to get the pay-off from them, and of the seven I think there were 3 or 4 that could do with a bit more work around the scripting to try ratchet up that audience distress. The ones that did it well though did it really well. Lizzie and David would create a setup with some information then detail how the stunt might go and then it’s left to us to watch it all unfold. The tension worked so well for some that I physically ached from sitting so stiffly throughout the bit.
Lizzie is a natural on stage, she has an incredible charisma and magnetism that draws you to her whenever she’s on stage – she dominates David a bit who still has great stage presence but not like Lizzie who uses her face, body and words to wring a whole range of emotional reactions out of the audience.
The stunts themselves range from “holy shit I’d hate to do that” through to “oh god I don’t want to watch” and everything in between. And while some of the back stories were superb and provided a wonderful history lesson, I felt like we could have learnt a bit more – but this might be my bookishness coming through.
The audience I sat with were in great spirits, a couple of them seemed to be willing something to go wrong and see some pain but apart from that we all cheered heartily when things went well, gasped suitably when things got tense and gave both Lizzie and David a huge round of applause at the end when the show finished.
While not strictly comedic, the show is super entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of carnie action. I know I do.
Wellington, Circa 2, April 17 – May 5, 7.30pm