By Caitlin Williams
Snake Boy was found in the Australian desert and raised by a family of red-bellied black snakes. He isn’t sure how hands, words, or karaoke works. He must learn how to move from being a Snake Boy, to a Boy Boy.
The Marvellouser Snake Boy is Alexander Richmond’s quirky, charming and offbeat addition to 2019’s Sydney Fringe Comedy. Short and sweet at a little under an hour, the show's endearing framework of a Snake Boy (played by Richmond) learning how to be human was balanced with more traditional stand up comedy.
Kicking off with a startling and hilarious entrance, Snake Boy situates itself in a world of lightly absurd humour. Staging was simple, with a projector and some props, such as a board ambiguously labelled with happy, sad, good and bad, and boxes with trash and treasure on them. The purpose of these soon became abundantly clear, as the audience was time and again invited to participate in Snake Boys education. This audience participation was deftly handled by Richmond, who seemed willing to run with and imitate anything the audience threw at him. Questions asked and suggestions made allowed the audience ample opportunity to add their own one-liners.
The projector was well used with some comically slap dash slides, directing the audience as to what skill they were to teach Snake Boy next. How to use hands? What is a tragedy? Apparently a tsunami, demonstrated with some toy horses and a lot of imagination from the chosen audience member.
Guest appearances from Snake Boy’s discoverer, Dr. Joseph (Jack Savage), added a level of dry humour, and highlights included a recurring karaoke segment featuring some classic Russian literature. The show falters a little when it moves from absurdity into a more traditional stand-up routine, and the jokes fell a little flat as we lost the through line of Snake Boys transformation. However, this was brief enough to be easily forgiven.
The Marvellouser Snake Boy stood out from the usual Fringe Comedy clamour of shows with its light absurdism and oddball humour. At times, Snake Boy was almost endearing. As an audience, we were eager to offer words for ‘happy’ and ‘sad,’ and direct Snake Boy on how to use basic utensils. While the more traditional parts felt a little out of place, there was enough weirdness and wackiness to otherwise keep us engaged. There was a lovely connection with the character, and a lot of laughs to be had. I’d recommend catching this funny little show during its short run at the Factory Theatre, from the 3rd to the 7th September.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.