David Farrier - 3news.co.nz' It has very little to do with the film Flashdance by the way. FLASHDUNCE sees two actors launching into a range of characters that are initially rooted into some kind of reality, before things veer off the rails...'open/close
The tagline for FLASHDUNCE reads, “An African Warthog can cut itself on its own teeth when it eats. What can you do?” So it's fairly clear this show is going to be somewhat absurdist in nature.
It has very little to do with the film Flashdance by the way. FLASHDUNCE sees two actors launching into a range of characters that are initially rooted into some kind of reality, before things veer off the rails.
Those two actors are Jackie van Beek and Jonny Brugh, who are back together again after 2005’s My Brother and I Are Pornstars.
As was the case with that show, both actors are quite captivating and you really could just stare at them all night.
Fortunately for the show's duration you get to do just that, because it’s just them on stage.
Jackie van Beek is radiant, dressed in some kind of gym outfit for most of the night.
Brugh (How To Meet Girls From a Distance, What We Do In The Shadows) is also in fluros, and is gifted with a face that instantly predisposes you to laughter.
There’s no rhyme or reason to the places they take us: a smoker contemplating suicide calls Quitline, when perhaps she should have called Lifeline; two adventurers travel through the icy squalls pulling a horse, musing the meaning of life through poetry; and there’s a scarily accurate portrayal of a teacher and principal taking a class through exam instructions – incompetence and confusion reign.
It’s a bizarre world with rapidly evolving stories in each skit.
The laughs come hard and fast. There’s never really a punch line to each skit – they just meander into the next.
There are heart-warming moments amongst the comedy, too, mostly thanks to moments from van Beek.
She has a kindness and warmth that bounces off Brugh’s mostly incompetent, outlandish characters.
FLASHDUNCE – the name doesn’t say it all. You really need to discover it for yourself.
Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Review-FLASHDUNCE/tabid/418/articleID/341571/Default.aspx#ixzz2zxHvIZC6
While there is no connection to the 80s cult-hit film (thank goodness?), and the] dramatic horse poster may just be a catchy way to strike interest in their show, the main thing to clear up is that writer/performers Jonny Brugh and Jackie Van Beek are no dummies. Flashdunce contains a series of intelligently-ridiculous sketches of a style that, looking at the rest of the Comedy Festival program, would seem to be out of fashion.
These two, however, are very cool cats. They’re kicking back with bare feet as we enter, riffing on guitars. This turns out to be a rather long set-up for their opening gag (even longer thanks to the late start!) were they pull out some jazz scat aka funny noises. A few energetic dance moves later, and they are into their first sketch: an immediate crowd-pleaser sending up the absurdity of teachers’ instructions before an exam.
Their material shows an eye for the darker stuff of life: you don’t get much riskier than starting a sketch than the line “I want to kill myself”. And that was only the first of two sketches on the topic. High-risk, but in their hands, this dark comedy gets some of the biggest laughs.
The sketches are long and developed, mining as much comedy from within the scenarios as possible. They take their - premises such as a drunk driver trying to get off, or a vet diagnosing everything from an app – into wonderfully absurd places. The long-form style does mean that if a particular sketch isn’t too your taste it does drag. Eastern European characters Ivan and Eva, on an existential journey of survival, are clearly characters Brugh and Van Beek have fallen for (featuring in three segments), but the humour doesn’t translate so easily into laughs.
Brugh and Van Beek are a likeable pair with a strong shared comic sympathy. Brugh keeps to type, while Van Beek shows the most versatility in her character range, and is rather good at going cross-eyed on cue.
For something a little different to the cavalcade of stand-up comedians, you can’t go wrong with Flashdunce.
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Nik Smythe - Theatreview.org.nz'The directions the skits take are generally unpredictable and the audience's laughter is genuine and consistent thanks to the accomplished artistry of the duo's shtick...'open/close
Jonny Brugh and Jackie van Beek take their consummate absurdist comedic skills back to basics with an hour of conceptual sketches the likes of which it occurs to me aren't really seen on the circuit so much these days. There's so much stand-up and some degree of more long-form character based works, but the old random skit-fest mash-up styles epitomised by Brugh's own Sugar and Spice shows or van Beek's Hellcat and Jeeks seem largely, and sadly I think, to have gone by the wayside.
I'm not certain whether their guff's promise to be ‘visually exciting' with ‘a colourful array of costumes and props' is intended ironically, or if it just didn't pan out as planned after submitting the blurb … Jackie certainly has a few nice frocks and a fairly decent basketball outfit, and Jon's ‘muscle beach' singlet and Club Med shorts are eyecatching in their own way I suppose.
Sure, and there are a couple of intriguingly non-sequitur props hanging in the grid too: twittering budgies, classic spherical bomb with a wick poking out … Overall, though, the visuals are really not the primary source of excitement. That I would mainly attribute to the clearly seasoned proficiency of the performing duo, and wondering what the heck those crazy old kids will come up with next.
For the full review head to:
There is nothing less illuminating than describing how and why somebody is funny, so you’ll have to trust me on this. The sketches themselves range from two unwilling teachers monitoring an exam through to a recurring sketch where two people in Eastern Europe march through a cold winter (funnier than I’m describing), through to the funniest of them all, a cop pulling over a drunk woman who will do anything not to be arrested.
What’s best about this show isn’t that it’s funny; rather, it is a kind of funny that feels entirely particular to these performers. Van Beek and Brugh bring an enviable energy to each skit, and even though some of them felt a bit long on opening night, it was always a joy to watch their reactions. It’s the kind of show you would love to see from conception through to closing night, just to see the myriad of ways they could take a sketch or twist a line for a different laugh.
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