Review By Tessa Stickland
Reusable Plastic Bag, Jett Bond’s solo debut, is a character and sketch comedy. The entire show is spent with Bond wearing a reusable plastic shopping bag on his head. “Absurd!” you’re thinking. And you’re correct.
“I-isn’t that dangerous?” Yeah, probably. But, as Bond points out, the warnings written on the bags say “not safe for children”, not that a grown man can’t put one on his head.
Bond does have common sense enough to have some holes ripped at the base of the bag (or the top of the bag, when it’s upside down to go on his head) for airflow. However, he can’t see anything through the bag (except maybe his feet if he looks straight down).
His commitment to the bag is intense. It’s sweaty. It’s uncomfortable. But… It is funny.
Would it be as funny without the bag? Probably not. Though not by much. That is to say, Bond is funny enough to carry a show without this gimmick.
However, as a gimmick, it’s a dumb and fun and works. A) It provides an anchor for the talking points of the show. B) A lot of physical comedy is drawn from Bond not being able to see. It’s slapstick gold.
And heck, it’s not a new idea. It’s just a handicapped version of masked theatre, which has been around for centuries.
This non-traditional mask creates a sense of anonymity. Bond is himself, he is his other characters, and he is the everyman.
With the bag-mask removing some of Bond’s identity, we as the audience can read ourselves into his performance. Hiding his face creates relatability. You can see yourself in the bag. It’s like Bella Swan in Twilight having little to no discerning features or personality, allowing teens to insert themselves into the story.
The bag is used in the place of a neutral mask, commonly used as a theatre practice for performers to hone their awareness of their body. As French actor Jacques Lecoq says of the neutral mask; “it helps us discover the space around us, and the rhythm and gravity of things.”
In the modern day, there’s an inherent insecurity in the act of hiding your face. Especially with a bag, with the classic trope of a paper bag hiding an ‘ugly’ face.
Yet in all other aspects, Bond is confident and present. He uses the neutral mask/bag well to enhance his physicality.
Reusable Plastic Bag, by Bond’s own words, is not about climate change. But includes climate change stuff. It’s not about that. Though maybe it is?
I feel he’s a bit caught up in the need for the show to have a larger purpose or a message. Or perhaps he’s worried that if he does, it’ll take away from the humour? Or it’ll become too dark?
He doesn’t dwell on this too long though. It’s classic alt comedy insecurity. The show’s not about climate change but it is but it isn't. The world is shit but we’re here to keep it light.
Would it have been better if Bond didn’t address the message (or potential lack of message) of the show? I’m not sure. I might then categorise it as pure nonsense, lighthearted comedy. Or I might’ve read themes into it on my own. Drawing the same or different meanings as identified by Bond.
I know I do the same thing in a lot of my own writing. Is this too much? Is it not enough? It’s clearly a feeling I connect with, and I suppose that’s what we’re looking for in art.
I may have gone on a more esoteric tangent than is representative of the atmosphere of the show. It’s 55 minutes of sketch and clown with some observational comedy and generally absurd vibes.
Overall, it’s light — with a couple of delightfully dark jokes – but you’ll come out with a spring in your step.