Review By James Ong
Gosh it’s nice to be back in a live audience! A limited capacity theatre with a COVID marshal is the best crowd I’ve been a part of in months. After a shocker of year filled with bushfires, lockdowns, a recession, international political turmoil, a surprising amount of celebrity death and a copious amount of recreational baking, it’s nice to have a live comedy back to raise the serotonin levels. As part of the Two Queers Festival, hosted by Giant Dwarf Theatre, the downright charming duo of Robyn Reynolds and Madeleine Stewart light up the stage in their comedy double act Tea Time. An act formed throughout lockdown, Tea Time was just simply fun.
Reynolds and Stewart have been making their rounds in the Sydney comedy scene for the past few years now and as they burst through the curtain, clad in silken kimonos and clutching their G&T mugs, it’s clear their drive will not be hindered by quarantine. Brimming with 7 months’ worth of pent up energy and observational humour both women kept the crowd laughing and engaged the entire show.
After a brief double-act intro, the first to the stage was Robyn Reynolds. This is the third time I’ve seen Robyn perform and it’s been an unexpected pleasure to watch her act develop and see her comedic skills evolve. On top of her existing dry wit and oddly cynical optimism, Reynolds’ has incorporated nuanced character voices and added more variety to her delivery to keep her act fresh. Though her act jumped from topic to topic a little haphazardly, her ability to read the audience and tune in to our tastes kept us locked in.
Madeleine Stewart was up next and offered a more gruff edge to her comedy. Complimenting her British counterpart with a Campbelltown-born edge, Stewart transitioned the crowd smoothly between styles, what could otherwise be two clashing tones. Though she aimed for unpolished, it’s clear Stewart is very well tuned in her structure and delivery. Traversing some often difficult topics (disability, anxiety and the dreaded “women’s health”), Stewart exuded a controlled confidence as she tip toed some fine lines and very efficiently built trust with the audience.
The night ended with a lovely, if slightly out of place complement-off as Reynolds and Stewart exchanged genuine words of kindness towards each other. This shifted us away from the performative comedy that we were used to, into a more intimate conversation. It was definitely a warm-hearted way to finish, but was a bit saccharine for an act based on self-deprecation and awkwardness. The pair managed to crack off a lot of content in the one hour run time and showed no signs of stage-rust at all. Though there could have been a bit more connective tissue to tie their acts together, the night as a whole was a great return to the world of live comedy.
A refreshing act, packed-full of relatable moments, this proudly queer, female duo is exactly what the (currently) pale, male and stale Sydney comedy scene needs.