Review By Flora Norton
Lano and Woodley have become household names to many Australians thanks to their irreverent, slapstick double-act, and their creative masterpiece for this year’s festival, ‘Moby Dick’, does not disappoint. Silly, exaggerated and nonsensical, Moby Dick is an hour of nostalgic fun and, despite moments of distinctly adult humour, Lano and Woodley’s playfights, staged practical jokes and over-the-top acting take the audience back to a simpler time. The humour is comforting and inclusive, if not particularly witty, and the beautiful stagecraft and evocative sound effects bolster the effectiveness of the performance.
Moby Dick tells the story of Colin Lano, attempting to tell the dramatic and heroic story of Moby Dick, whilst being consistently and humorously interrupted by his fictionally dismissed co-star, Frank Woodley. Woodley’s character is childlike and idiotic, yet endearing whilst Lano’s is arrogant, domineering, and dramatic. The sketch is as confusing as it is funny, and while Lano and Woodley’s on-stage chemistry is palpable and wonderful to watch, the audience genuinely shares in Lano’s irritation as Woodley’s character becomes increasingly disruptive. The duo don’t confine themselves to a single genre either, trying their hand at everything from musical theatre, improvisation, audience interaction and even poetry and the show is a must-see for anyone partial to a good (or not so good) pun.
Lano and Woodley also have the unique skill of being able to pass blundered lines, prop malfunctions, and accidental stumbles off as not only funny but also intentional parts of the play, leaving the audience constantly confused as to what is scripted, and what is a genuine mistake. At one point, when Woodley’s microphone glitches loudly and a technician comes on stage to replace it, Lano and Woodley merely continue to quip back and forth and the comedy that ensues appears to be entirely spontaneous, and yet also completely rehearsed. While bemusing and at times, distracting, the show certainly keeps the audience on its toes and is a rollercoaster to watch.
Distinguishing it from more typical comedy sketches, Moby Dick incorporates a dynamic and animated stage and backdrop with moving props and evocative sound effects. One moment they are on a whaling ship with the sound of waves crashing behind them, the next they are two men quarrelling on a bare stage. The final moments of the show see Lano and Woodley tear down the set, appearing to genuinely destroy it, adding to the impression that this is a performance of Moby Dick sketch gone very badly wrong.
Lano and Woodley are enigmatic, animated, and inviting comedians, and Moby Dick sees them repeatedly breaking the fourth wall to share in the absurdity alongside the audience. A whimsical, bizarre, and slightly stressful comedy, Moby Dick is a breath of fresh air from the more cynical and political shows in this years’ festival.