Saturday, December 4, 2010

Theatre: D.I.Y. Disaster Movie

Blue Room Theatre and Longwood Productions
Featuring Damon Lockwood, Sam Longley and Aaron McCann
Blue Room Theatre
November 30 – December 11, 2010

There's Lava Coming Down the Hill, Mommy!
As the Moon, adrift from its orbit, plummets toward the helpless Earth, the discredited scientist Derwent Silverman and his nemesis Sheldon Monsanto are holed up in the magnetic crater. The bodies of Silverman's high school sweetheart Chardonnay, his old friend Brett Baguette, the ominous Colonel Ivan Nokabolokov, little Alice and the Mexican amigos Pablo and Lupé lie broken around them.
Only they, and the faithful mutt Rufus, can save the world, and then only if Silverman can hurl a block of parmesan cheese at the approaching satellite. He swings a giant kitchen spoon, the cheese crashes into the lunar surface and the gigantic threat is averted.
We are saved! Rufus barks happily.
Sadly, you’ll never see this story told again, but Sam Longley and Damon Lockwood, who concocted it, contend you’ve seen it all before – every time you watch that most mongrel of Hollywood genres, the disaster movie.
And they go about proving their point cleverly, first improvising a story based on a disaster movie theme selected by the spin of a chocolate wheel from 20 published in the program. Ours – you guessed it – was “Falling Moon”; not so lucky audiences might get “Dugong v Panda” or that hoary old staple “Thinking, Flying, Heat Resistant Hail”.
The story unfolds, with characters named by the audience and consistent with what Longley and Lockwood claim are the Seven Rules of a Disaster Movie, which range from “everything can be fixed with dodgy science” to “the dog never dies” (good boy, Rufus).
While this is happening, the third member of the crew, director of photography Aaron McCann, is filming the scenes and inserting cut-aways and close ups of action on improbable miniature sets. The purpose of all this activity becomes clear when we return after interval and watch the movie we’ve just seen made. It’s a clever and original touch, and ticks a lot of good comedic boxes without overstaying its welcome.
Both Longley and Lockwood are charismatic and engaging comedians very much in the Chaser mould, and the tiny Blue Room space is perfect for a show that’s not far removed from a party piece.
It is, after all, summer in Perth and this sort of neo-panto is well suited to nights when you’re probably more inclined to be thinking of the bar than the Bard.
I’m not for a minute suggesting that D.I.Y. Disaster Movie is either great art or even great comedy; like a lot of full-length improv, it’s too scratchy and adolescent for that. And I’m certainly not suggesting it’s going to change the world.
Unless, of course, Derwent Silverman’s piece of cheese misses the Moon!

An edited version of this review appeared in The West Australian 3.12.10    

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