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April - May 2014

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2Hoots Productions Presents 

Jon Bennett

Fire In The Meth Lab



Dear Brother,

How’s jail? How many cigarettes does it cost for a picture of a naked lady? I’ve written a show about you, is that ok? You’re in jail so you can’t really say no.

Love from your little brother, Jon.

This story involves drug dealers, bikers, high-speed car chases, prison, exploding houses and cancer. This is Breaking Bad with a lot more bad and a lot more breaking.

3 x Nominee Just For Laughs Best Comedy Award

***** Sunday Mail, AUS


Showing In:

Auckland Wellington


Tue 6 May - Sat 10 May, 8.45pm


Vault at Q Theatre, Auckland


Adults $24.00
Conc. $20.00
Groups 6+ $20.00* service fees may apply


09 309 9771

Show Duration:

1 hour

Critics Review

Annelies Gartner - Yahoo News Australia'4 Stars - Bennett knows how to weave a tale'open/close
Jon Bennett's older brother Tim is a bully and a drug addict who was oddly obsessed with Jason Donovan. Bennett uses his brother's addiction and subsequent stints in jail as the basis for his latest comedy show.

It's not a topic you'd expect to find yourself laughing at but then Bennett knows how to weave a tale.

So how does the son of a Pentecostal priest fall off the wagon? Bennett starts with his brother's first addiction, Jason Donovan - cue for Jason Donovon Straight From the Heart Board Game.

The concept behind this board game is completely ridiculous. Question: What is Jason's favourite postcard?

You can't help but wonder if taking drugs would help you play.

Tim's pop obsession moves to religion before it is quickly replaced by a penchant for alcohol and drugs.

Bennett reveals personal details about himself and the rest of his family as he follows his brother's fall from grace. He's happy to disclose the most intimate details and these anecdotes got the biggest laughs.

From surviving the bullying of his older brother to discovering his own sexuality, no topic is off limits.

He uses letters to his incarcerated brother, photographs, music videos (yes, Donovon gets a look in), poetry and a little audience participation to take us on this journey.

I'm not sure if Bennett's family is perfect fodder for comedy or if he's just great at spinning a yarn. I suspect it's a combination of the two.

It took me several minutes to regain my hearing after the show, not from Bennett's delivery but from the level of laughter the packed crowd generated.

For the original review head to:'This show is powerful, brutally honest, and drenched in the rich humour of pathos...'open/close
There is tension in the room as you enter a makeshift meth lab, Jon Bennett seated in a tattered brown coach wrapped in yellow police tape, waiting for you.

In the next hour Jon drags you into the murky depths of his family’s history: awkward and shame-laden revelations of sexuality, bullying, drugs, an unhealthy obsession with Jason Donovan, all absurdly juxtaposed against the purity of Jon’s devout Pentecostal parents. Despite the extreme nature of events, we can all relate on some level to Jon’s childhood experiences.

This hobble down memory lane is not without purpose – Jon is here to try and understand his self-sabotaging older brother Tim’s addiction to meth. Jon builds a rich picture of his brother’s character, refusing to withhold the worst of Tim’s miscreant behaviour, but complicating things with details of Tim’s rare moments of benevolence.

There’s something dangerous about Jon’s comedy; he delivers an overdose of honesty that makes him vulnerable. You find yourself worried about the repercussions for Jon sharing this intimate story with you – how will Tim react?

Jon Bennett sets the gold standard in storytelling. This show is powerful, brutally honest, and drenched in the rich humour of pathos. This is unlike any other show you’ll find at the festival. Get your hit of raw and real comedy. This is my pick of the festival so far.

For the original review head to:
Jim Hilditch -'4 1/2 Stars - The meth lab paraphernalia littering the stage is the starting point for a fantastic show – like Breaking Bad but with slides'open/close
The meth lab paraphernalia littering the stage is the starting point for a fantastic show – like Breaking Bad but with slides. This is the story of Tim Bennett as told by his brother Jon; starting from where it all went very wrong, Bennett pieced together the heartfelt but hilarious journey that transformed a country boy and preacher’s son to meth lab cook.

Each episode helped to build the story of the descent. From the prejudice of knock-knock jokes to a wonderfully descriptive account of the drive back from a family funeral and the concept of the vomit punch, Bennett brought all the parts together in a superb mix of black humour and pathos. All this, plus plenty of ’80s nostalgia in old photos and a wonderfully creepy Jason Donovan board game as loved by young girls (and Tim).

True story or tall tale? It doesn’t matter; it’s brilliant either way.

For the original review head to:
Jo Vabolis -'Bennett’s skilful storytelling frequently adjusts the balance between nightmare and comedy – it’s a powerful, full-on performance that crosses plenty of lines'open/close
Jon Bennett’s powerpoint presentation takes us on a trip through a tortured relationship, dissecting one bully brother’s questionable decisions with the aid of photographic highlights and a few crucial props.

Despite the sibling torment, theirs was a childhood in country South Australia that couldn’t have been any further away from the world of drugs and bikies that led to Tim’s eventual downfall.

Tim has many loves in his life, but his main love becomes meth (for the unfamiliar, meth is methamphetamine – a highly addictive street drug, not known for offering life-enhancing opportunities). Cooking meth was Tim’s dream job until a workplace accident took him from his position halfway up the dodgy career ladder to a police chase, hospital and later prison. Turns out you need more savvy than Tim possesses to outwit the criminal underworld. Knowing your product and having a swift set of legs doesn’t cut it.

This catalogue of abuse and addiction, from sugary ’80s pop to drugs of every persuasion, is punctuated with correspondence exchanged between the brothers during Tim’s incarceration.

Bennett’s skilful storytelling frequently adjusts the balance between nightmare and comedy – it’s a powerful, full-on performance that crosses plenty of lines. There’s warmth as well as brutality, though, and the epilogue answers the burning question of how it all turned out. Tim’s new dependence remains consuming, but is much less lethal.

Fire in the Meth Lab is (surprisingly) hilarious, and highly recommended if you can handle some strong language and adult themes.

For the original review head to:
Robbie Ellis -'Jon is open, charming, affable, but most of all, compassionate...'open/close
Fire in the Meth Lab's pre-show impression relies heavily on the imagery of Breaking Bad: a gritty, solid colour-filtered photo of a hoodied figure; the letter symbols of the periodic table within the title graphics; and pre-show music full of the pedal steel of southwest American desperation. But the set – consisting of presumably locally sourced objects like used Resene paint buckets, a dingy old 70s armchair, an LPG bottle – locates the show more clearly in this part of the world.

Jon Bennett grew up the youngest of four children in a South Australian country town, the son of a Christian minister. By and large it was a happy, well-adjusted upbringing free from deprivation. He explains all this to give context to his next-younger brother, Tim: clearly a much more troubled character.

Tim is an addict and Jon describes the various obsessions he's gone through: alcohol, drugs, religion and childhood popstar fanaticism. The sixth and final addiction is meth, and we hear of the many poorly judged decisions that this compulsion leads to.

Jon tells stories of the two Bennetts plus their extended family in a variety of ways: monologues that vary in tone from rapid-fire mushroom trips to the most poignant funereal whisper; letters between the brothers delivered as voiceovers; captioned photos (both family photos and whatever he grabbed off Google Image Search); TV and music video footage from the 80s and 90s; callbacks that border on dadaist; and the odd bit of physical theatre and mime.

A wickedly funny performer, Jon presents his ideas and thoughts with a simply marvellous precision. He's paced his show in such a way that he can have us rolling in the aisles for five solid minutes, flip on a dime, and within half a second deliver us a whopping emotional kick to the guts.

He's made his peace with everything from minor childhood embarrassments to near-death experiences, and with the foibles of both himself and other people. He can share these with us because from the moment we walk into the theatre, Jon is open, charming, affable, but most of all, compassionate.

Fire in the Meth Lab is a story of familial love despite terrible events and terrible choices. This year's Comedy Festival has been blessed with some great shows from sensitive performers who have found comedy in personal tragedy (Carey Marx, Tom Wrigglesworth and Jamie Bowen to name three) and Jon Bennett is another.

Read more:
Steve Bennett -'... a witty and frank demonstration of the storyteller’s art'open/close
He’s best known for a show called Pretending Things Are A Cock, but in this skilful slice of storytelling, Jon Bennett has most definitely matured.

Fire In The Meth Lab revolves around his relationship with his older brother, who tormented him as a child and ultimately span off the rails when he got involved with drugs. Any more on his criminal activities, Bennett asks us to keep within the four safe walls of the performance, but the title gives a tiny clue.

However, an alternative name for the show, he suggests, would have been How To Love An Asshole, as the captivating anecdotes he regales us with illustrate a relationship that goes nastier than sibling horseplay. Brother Tim was an irritant, a bully... and a full-on Jason Donovan fan.

A board game dedicated to the Eighties pop pin-up forms a recurring element – a one-joke idea that nonetheless retains its effect over repetition – while more structure comes from letters exchanged between brothers about the genesis of this show. They are PowerPointed on to a screen as they are read out – unnecessary, really, especially as viewers can finish the slide ahead of the audio, and the charismatic Bennett should have more faith in his enviable ability to hold a crowd without such visual crutches.

The questionable choices Tim made have lead to some great stories, encompassing Christian retreats, drunken brawls and a dread of doctors. Bennett plays some for laughs, some for drama, and backs some with insight into their contrasting personalities.

Although ultimately a cautionary tale – who could have known a meth addiction could have a downside? – Bennett also considers why his life hasn’t gone the same way. After all, he’s from the same ultra-religious upbringing and tried the odd substance, as he describes in an hilarious flashback. ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’

Whether it’s really a redemptive morality tale is probably a moot point; but this is an entrancing hour of compelling stories, placed in a wider context. It’s not a five-laughs-a-minute stand-up show; but a witty and frank demonstration of the storyteller’s art.

For the original review head to:
Tim Gruar -'It's obviously a cautionary tale, but told so well and with such entertaining vigour that you can’t help but be impressed...'open/close
South Australian Jon Bennett's new show Fire in the Meth Lab should not be a laughing matter. It's a one man act that is part monologue, part diatribe and part slide show.

He sets out to trace and document the deeds of his unscrupulous older brother who’s fallen spectacularly from grace and is in prison for cooking Meth. Bennett highlights his brother's rise as a bully, a betrayer of any decent brotherly bond and his early indications which include God, local-cal drugs and substances and Jason Donovan (former star from Neighbours, manufactured beau to Kylie and Australia's answer to Rick Astley). It’s the latter that provides the most comic relief during Bennett's often intense, metered deliveries.

On the floor of a stage decorated with potential cooking gear, a dodgy Sally Army chair and CSI "Caution" tape are the cards and paraphernalia from The Jason Donovan Game. It's from the insanely banal question cards that Bennett reads to the audience, quizzing then on things like Donovan's favourite food, his house and stance on anti-Nukes. Somehow, he manages to make this and his woeful tale of his brother's Dante-like descent from the son of a strict Pentecostal Minister into the fiery hell of drug addiction and near suicide all seem light and funny. Of course challenging an audience member to a bout of ‘belly-bunting’ (think body slamming with cushions) adds a smidgeon of additional comic relief.

It's obviously a cautionary tale, but told so well and with such entertaining vigour that you can’t help but be impressed.

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