Review By Regan Baker
With five individual stages within their complex, the Factory Theatre in Marrickville was truly abuzz with life and laughter tonight as the Sydney Comedy Festival progressed into its third week. I had back-to-back shows on the agenda tonight and having just walked out of ‘The Game is Afoot: an Improvised Sherlock Holmes Mystery,’ I was in a prime condition to continue the belly chuckles as show time for ‘Charisa Bossinakis: Pineapple Juice’ at The Container drew nearer.
“The Container. Interesting name for a live theatre venue,” I thought to myself.
In the back of my mind I just assumed it was an aptly named ‘theatre’ because of its smaller size – kind of like ‘The basement’ or ‘The Studio’ – common names for smaller venues across the globe.
Nope! It was an actual shipping container that had been retrofitted with tiered seating, lights, sound system and even a backstage to host miniature live stand-up events.
Since starting with Theatre Travels I have reviewed shows in all kinds of whacky and wonderful locations; bars, clubs, pinball arcades, reservoirs, even a Brisbane City Council bus - but never in my day did I think I would be sitting inside an un-air-conditioned shipping container listening to jokes. What a time to be alive (Thanks COVID!)
We ushered ourselves into the forty-five (ish) person container and down the narrow aisle along the side to take our seats, awaiting the commencement of the show. And after the somewhat unusual pump-up song of Eiffel 65’s, ‘I’m Blue’, Bossinakis took the stage and was quick to get the audience in the laughing mood.
Drawing influence from her Greek heritage, Bossinakis recounted multiple stories of what it was like growing up as the disappointment in the eyes of her yia-yia (grandmother). That’s OK though, because she is an aspiring trophy wife and just needs to work out a way to trap an NRL player she joked. Her comedy was hilariously self-reflective and focussed heavily on her unconventional childhood, including what it takes to make the school bully cry.
While audience participation probably wasn’t on the original agenda for tonight’s performance, when someone wears a fedora into a shipping container to watch comedy, how was Bossinakis to pass on the opportunity? With seamless ease she beautifully executed joke after joke at the poor chaps expense and every single one landed to a rile of laughter.
Her unique combination of situational storytelling and witty facial expressions amplified her connection with the audience to create an atmosphere of familiar comedy. While her storytelling was highly engaging however, Bossinakis chose to weave two segments into the show where an interrupting audio queue played over the sound system, prompting her to do a few rounds of impressionist-style comedy. These moments, while somewhat funny independently, created a momentary lapse of connection and were probably not necessary in this particular show. With only forty minutes to create a lasting memory with an audience I would have much preferred to see Bossinakis continue to focus on the funnier elements of her show, which was her storytelling.
I don’t know a lot of Greek comedians. Perhaps any. So Bossinakis has a very unique cultural opportunity to tell those stories and captivate people, like me, with situational comedy that people may have never been exposed to before. From the stories about her yia-yia, to what it was like being the only olive-skinned person in an up-tight, highly religious school, her somewhat unique upbringing brought with it so many moments and stories that make for beautiful comedy.
Charisa Bossinakis truly has a bright future in comedy. She’s young, not afraid to look inward and poke fun at herself and can engage audiences with her situational and unique comedy.