Review: Frank Woodley - *@#!KING CLOWN at The Factory, The Garden of Unearthly Delights

Review By Lia Cocks


When you walk into a theatre set with a banana on a ladder, a bunch of balloons in one corner, two microphones stands and an array of costumes set on either side, you know you are in for a traditional Woodley treat. Known as the goofy half of Lano & Woodley, Woodley has carved an incredible career for himself with his slapstick, slightly innocent persona. After working together for almost 20 years, Woodley and Lane decided to part ways in 2006, which led to Woodley performing a number of solo stand up shows, leading to his latest offering, *@#!KING CLOWN. Directed by Bob Franklin with sound and lights by Benny (well done sir), *@#!KING CLOWN (I love writing that), is the story of Woodley’s journey to France to present at a 3 day masterclass with European clown royalty, Balzakov (cough, cough). Here he finds he is demoted to only speak for an hour, as ‘comedian’ from Australia, Franc Woodle, not the 3 days, and then becomes a student in the workshops of mime and funny. The following hour actually becomes a masterclass in Woodley’s innate klutzy, physical comedy which had me sitting there in wonderment of his ability to take a well rehearsed show, and make it look spontaneous and shambolic. Or was it the other way around? Or not? That’s what he wanted us to think...or did he? Woodley introduces us to participants of this said European workshop, and morphs into the many characters we would expect to see there. His re-enactments are gob-smackingly good (said Russian King Clown is gold) as are his segues between scenes. His whimsical nature, nonchalant attitude and self deprecating posture are all part of his schtick and make him the beloved character that he is. The arc of his story about him being a ‘sex pest’, and the banter that followed was hilarious, as was his imitation of a ‘paralegal’. Absolute gut-splitting, physical theatre at it’s best! He demonstrated the art of physical comedy during two crucial scenes, where while continuing his story, he changed costumes and trickery for the next sketch. Beginning as a slow burn, and not knowing the relevance of the banana in the microphone, *@#!KING CLOWN is in essence a lesson in the history of clowning in a way that Frank Woodley is undeniably and categorically a master of. All hail King Woodley! 5 stars indeed.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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