By Isabella Olsson
Deep Heat, we are told early on in this performance, is both the name of an effective and criminally underrated anti-inflammatory gel, as well as that of the combined creative forces of Sydney comics Ruby Blinkhorn and Kate Bubalo. Their first time Fringe Comedy show “A Bit Much” is ludicrously charming, delightfully self-effacing, and will leave you positively beaming. Playing heightened versions of themselves onstage, Kate and Ruby set out on a mission to create The Best Fringe Show Ever, a quest that involves a jam-packed hour of show tunes, wordplay, costume changes, audience participation, and many full-bellied laughs.
Both Ruby and Kate are generous and clever performers, with distinctive styles that bounce off each other and create a warm and inviting energy. Ruby is audacious and unabashedly quirky, while Kate is awkward, cheeky and playful – the combination of their two contrasting personas pays homage to classic double act routines and makes for delicious comedy. They are clearly comfortable with each other, having performed together previously as part of Splenda comedy group and USYD Womn’s Revue, and their familiarity with one another allows for improvisation and an off the cuff ease that propels the show.
While the show is accessible to all, it will especially appeal to those well versed in Australian comedy. Over the course of the hour Ruby and Kate make reference to (and parody) Demi Lardner, Hannah Gadsby, Matt Okine, Adam Hills, to mention a few, and the show comments on and explores issues facing the comedy scene, particularly in regard to sexism and barriers facing women comedians. If that sounds all very serious, don’t be put off – Kate and Ruby deliver any and all commentary with tongue in cheek playfulness and eccentricity that will keep you well and truly entertained.
“A Bit Much” is at its strongest when Ruby and Kate indulge their weirdest and wackiest selves. They are both aware of the difficulties and gendered pressures that face women in comedy, a point cleverly explored by their meta dive into the politics of the Australian comedy scene, and by the end of the show are determined to rid themselves of these unconscious shackles that so often restrict women in the arts. We get a brilliantly awkward sexy dance to the 90s sleazy classic “Pony”, a disgustingly hilarious use of fake blood, and Kate and Ruby test the limits of their accent impersonation skills to great effect. Both are so endearing and bubbly that we are implicitly on their side, happy for them to take us to whatever weird and wonderful place they have in store for us.
Beyond the absurdity, the quick wit, and the (jawdroppingly impressive) vocal performances, “A Bit Much” is quite simply just a really good time. Setting out to create The Best Fringe Show Ever might be a high – and maybe unreachable – bar, but Deep Heat rise to the challenge regardless and put on a show that is bound to keep a smile plastered across your face.
Deep Heat: A Bit Much is playing at Factory Theatre this Thursday & Saturday, September 19 & 21.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.