Tightly-presented stand up comedy celebrates the awesomeness of childhood.
With an impressively unflattering jumper and a quizzically tilted head, Bart Freebairn rocks a packed tent of Fringe World aficionados with his take on the world around us.
Experienced in the ways of stand-up, Freebairn quickly finds the audience’s laugh level through a building sequence of casual jokes and observations, before hitting his stride as he elaborates on his show’s main theme. His delivery is intense, his face lighting up with genuine delight over childhood memories of his first Big Mac and the joys of asking children about their career ambitions. His chaser observations about the difficulties of finding children to ask these questions, as a single, childless, middle-aged man, brings fresh gales of laughter. His discussions about social media are fresh and tightly-themed, considering that new parents may be celebrating the wrong achievement milestones in their youngsters’ lives, working in commentaries on further education as a secondary recurring motif.
Freebairn has a packed house, late at night, and takes charge of rogue elements early on with several fiercely witty heckler put-downs. Most of the participation and interaction between comedian and crowd is good-natured, and Freebairn eventually reduces his heckler responses down to gentle mockery.
The Age of Wonder is not just about the awesomeness of childhood examined from different perspectives, each revisit adds just a little more to previous discussions. Freebairn convinces his Fringe World comedy crowd to follow along in a spirit animal exercise and shares his experiences of internet dating, albeit under the surreal comic persona of ‘The Sandwich Baron.’ Particularly beguiling is an extended rumination on the nature of food, tracing all terrestrial energy back to the sun and portraying plants as particularly lazy gluttons. This leads to a logical consideration of superpowers, how obesity should be seen as a cunning stockpiling of energy, and how Superman should have appeared before and after each adventure. With the crowd in the palm of his hand, Freebairn easily digresses to the true nature of sports obsession and toasted cheese sandwiches, holding attention and causing hilarity throughout.
Master of the call-back, able to incorporate heckles into his act and confident on his feet at the centre of a packed tent of attention, Bart Freebairn in The Age of Wonder is a whimsically cheerful addition to this year’s Fringe World festival.
Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5
Bart Freebairn in The Age of Wonder
DeLuxe, The Pleasure Garden, Northbridge
30 January – 4 February