ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL: Express

Mark Trenwith’s latest show Express at the Adelaide Fringe Festival asks the question “Are Australians crap at expressing themselves”. Where he got that wild notion I have no idea. Oh wait, maybe he’s met my dad. Or 90% of our elected officials. Or the occasional rugby league player.
ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL: Express
Adelaide Fringe Festival: Express “Umm. I just wanna, err, I’d like to start by ... Hang, hang on, uh – If I could. Can I just. Umm!” Mark Trenwith’s latest show Express at the Adelaide Fringe Festival asks the question “Are Australians crap at expressing themselves”. Where he got that wild notion I have no idea. Oh wait, maybe he’s met my dad. Or 90% of our elected officials. Or the occasional rugby league player. Wherever the whacky concept came from, the result is a very funny 60 minutes of manic standup & more reflective pre-recorded videos – multimedia-social experiment comedy as the blurb would have it. Without doubt, the AV segments interspersed throughout his live delivery used to excellent effect are often the highlights. [I still remember a segment from a show one or two fringes ago which compared the way he acted/reacted while listening to different sorts of music on his iPod. Tummy-clenching, belly-aching stuff.] & there’s more of the same in Express. There’s a lovely scene of him reverting to the ways & wiles of childhood by chucking a wobbly when the pub he’s in doesn’t have his preferred brand of beer. The reactions of the bemused bartender are sublime. There’s a breakup scene with a girlfriend dumping him on her birthday – with a very sharp sting in its tail which I won’t give away. He also goes out on the street & randomly gives out compliments*; affecting different people in a variety of ways. It’s also fairy risky stuff – complimenting someone on their pin number while they’re withdrawing cash isn’t always a bright idea. His dog commenting on his singing abilities, while predictable (it is a comedy show after all) is still very funny. Some sketches succeed better than others. Some are more surreal/silly than others. But the quality is always pretty high (or higher). And the fact that he tries so many different things is a testament to both his desire to make us laugh, as well as his versatility, because Trenwith is more than just a master at his M-SEC brand of humour. (Multimedia-Social Experiment Comedy, remember!) He has lots of excellent wry observational moments such as the redundancy of having Wii Fit (after years of keeping us on the couch, Nintendo are now creating ‘games’ to get us off it). This in turn leads to a series of clever puns using Wii as the starting point – no, not just toilet related one-liners. He certainly manages to express his anger when talking about NOT FOR SERVICE buses, and is surprisingly thought provoking when it comes to the interview processes for selecting the lab assistants of mad scientists (it’s thought provoking because I can honestly say I’d never thought about it until he provoked me). When full swing into a story, his delivery is often a fast-talking rapid fire barrage of words, images & laughs; but his timing is also lovely, allowing him to slow down, to pause to allow us the joke, before extending it, & breaking it down, & giving it another twist. Another string to his bow is excellent physical facial dexterity. He may not have a rubber face, but it’s a polymerization of a variety of monomers including isoprene, chloroprene & isobutylene at the very least. (Thanks Wikipedia!) His impersonation of a startled kangaroo was, well, startlingly marsupial-esque. A few of his jokes are very Adelaide-centric, which is fine because I saw it in Adelaide; but I’m certain when he travels his ability to observe will enable him to tailor the show for whatever city he’s performing in. The conclusion, a celebrity song-fest for a worthwhile cause, is a perfect end. Perfect in that it manages to encapsulate most of the moods of this crazy, clever & talented comedian. *Mark you have a very nice looking chin. Adelaide Fringe Festival’s Express by Mark Trenwith at the Rhino Room Downstairs runs to 21 March and tickets range from $12.75 to $20.75.

glen r johns

Sunday 15 March, 2009

About the author

glen r is currently the General Manger of Cirkidz Inc, Adelaide's premier youth circus. He also is a writer, director & film maker. He was Creative Director of Southern Youth Theatre Ensemble for 5 years (2004-08). In that time he wrote & directed many productions & smaller outcomes for the company; ran hundreds of workshops (both onsite & for community partners); taught comedy, physical theatre, scriptwriting, film-making & stilt-walking among other skills; & made countless bad jokes.