Review By Louisa Polson The Sydney Fringe festival is once again up and running, hosting hundreds of shows throughout September. Comedian and Improv artist, Levi Meltzer occupied the Matchbox Theatre inside Sydney’s Factory Theatre over the weekend presenting his new theatrical stand-up act entitled, Deadbeat Laureate. This act is a 50 minute or so show, following Levi’s journey to demonstrate why he is infact worthy of an award to honour his unique creativity and superior intelligence.
A sense of excited apprehension fills the space as the audience enters through the black curtain to their seats, the bravest among us opting to sit in the front row. The act of walking into any comedy show can be a bit daunting for most people. This feeling of tension is enhanced by the dark and pensive music setting the tone to prepare the audience for the hour to come. The show opened with Levi graciously accepting an award, in a very meticulous ceremony concocted by non-other than the award recipient himself. While most performers will opt to ignore the disturbance of late audience members, this artist chose to take a different approach. Any disruption did not go unnoticed and prompted Levi to regurgitate his monologue again (and again) to ensure everyone was up to speed with the presentation at hand. As the show ensues, the audience gets taken on a multi-media experience whereby Levi employs his journalistic skills to explore how and why he is in fact uniquely and unquestionably superior. This seemingly one-person show is aided by comedian Tim Dunk, who supports Levi on stage by keeping the show on track as an adhoc stagehand to assist Levi with the various production elements. The quick-witted banter between the two comedians elevates the piece by ensuring Levi never strays too far from reality.
Rarely is the use of video on stage necessary or beneficial to improving the narrative of a show. However, in this production the video element was extremely amusing and expanded the realm of what is possible to produce given the limited physical space on the theatre’s stage. The further Levi ran with the video journalism the more captivated the audience became with the absurdity of it all. Levi played with the concept of emulating a journalist so well that the content was not too dissimilar from the stories you sometimes see on weekly news. Levi plays with timing well, leaving pauses to sit just long enough to make the audience squirm. The comedy act incorporated the right amount of audience participation to keep the show fresh without relying too heavily on the people in the crowd to fuel the laughs. Deadbeat Laureate is an enjoyable and humorous production to come out of the fringe. With a little bit of tightening, I hope this production gets the opportunity to run again at other events as it is a hilarious concept.
The take-away message from this show is, that it’s Levi’s world, and we’re all just living in it! Unfortunately, this show has completed its run for Sydney Fringe Festival, but you still have a chance to catch Levi and Tim popping up again at the end of the month with their improv group, Landlord for their three-night run of Lethal Inspection, playing September 22nd, 24th and 25th at the Factory Theatre.