Comedy reviews: Wil Greenway: The Ocean After All and Scout Boxall: Pork Chop, Melbourne Fringe Festival

Two comedians ply their craft at Trades Hall for Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Wil Greenway, Scout Boxhall. Images are on the left an illustration of a man with a beard in a yellow shirt, wearing a garland of flowers around his neck, and on the right a person with a mullet haircut and glasses touching their neck with tattoo covered arms.

Wil Greenway: The Ocean After All

In Greenway’s publicity blurb for the show is a quote from British comedian and the original comedian-storyteller, Daniel Kitson: ‘I am on record as being a fan.’ And it’s easy to see the Kitson influence in Greenway’s work. The Ocean After All is a story that uses the (self-referentially aware) trite narrative device of a discovered series of messages in a bottle from someone on a deserted island as the jumping off point for telling a deeper story about life – and the choices we make that build that life. 

Like Kitson, Greenway had a firm grasp of the energetic and theatrical requirements of keeping an audience on board to tell an hour-long story, to reel people in, and to make us laugh with the silly asides and moments of physical comedy as much as with the layers of meta-narrative meaning. 

While the meta-narrative revelation was clever, it did feel a bit didactic and sentimental. But Greenway’s top-class performance and likeable demeanour helped to sell it, and the show got away with feeling more heartfelt than hackneyed.

Wil Greenway: The Ocean After All

Wil Greenway: The Ocean After All was performed from 11-15 October 2023 at Trades Hall as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival

Scout Boxall: Pork Chop

Scout Boxall announces at the beginning that Pork Chop is a work in progress, and it does feel as if it’s still finding its rhythm. The show draws from Boxall’s obsessional interests in a variety of things, from F1 (they show the audience of non-F1 fans the world record 1.8-second pit stop changeover via video projection and, look, it is quite impressive) to gaming, by way of a decent whack of ribbing of straight people and a re-creation of the banter-turned-sour that led to their being permanently banned from Tinder. 

Their highly specific interests didn’t have a lot of overlap with the audience’s on the night this reviewer saw Pork Chop, although this didn’t stop a discussion between Boxall and the only Sims 2 fan in the audience (about the best way to kill your Sim) from being very entertaining (and disturbingly enlightening). A few (what sometimes felt like) elbowed-in musical numbers could do with some polish to extract more comic potential from the joyfully absurd lyrics, and Boxall’s takedown of their two-week experience at Philippe Gaulier’s clown school could work better if it served more structural or comic purpose. 

Despite these teething issues, Boxall’s comfortable audience banter on the relaxed evening performance this reviewer saw put the audience at ease and provided lots of laughs. Those who fear audience participation can rest easy, as Boxall gives their audience an out: if they really don’t want to be dragged in, they can just put up a firm “no deal!” crossed arms.

Read: Performance review: I Am (Not) This Body, Arts House, Melbourne Fringe Festival

There’s a lot to like in Boxall’s performance and, as it leans into its strengths and firms up, I’m sure it’ll attract audiences that enjoy Boxall’s brand of zany, brainy queer-friendly humour. 

Scout Boxall: Pork Chop

Scout Boxall: Pork Chop will be performed at Trades Hall as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival until 22 October 2023.

Kate Mulqueen is an actor, writer, musician and theatre-maker based in Naarm (Melbourne). Instagram: @picklingspirits Facebook: @katemulq Twitter: @katemulqueen