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New Art Club – Big Bag of Boom

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL: Contemporary dance is ripe for satire, which is exactly what these UK choreographers turned comedians do – and brilliantly.

You don’t have to be familiar with contemporary dance to enjoy the hilarious satire performed by UK duo New Art Club (dancers/choreographers Tom Roden and Pete Shenton), but if you are, it’s sure to enrich what is already an excellent and engaging performance.

Both talented artists in their own right, for their first visit to Australia the duo once famously described as “Morecambe and Wise at Sadler’s Wells” are performing an award-winning ‘greatest hits’ package, Big Bag of Boom, comprised of the highlights of their ten year career to date.

The show sees Roden and Shenton creating “significant space” in a piece which successfully displays both their comedic talents and their poise and precision; utilising a simple form of audience participation (asking the audience to close and open their eyes when requested) in order to create a series of delightfully ridiculous tableau based around an urn and a plinth; and generating gales of laughter in a range of sketches which reference everything from an inspired Isadora Duncan at the Louvre to the violent actions of the IRA.

Not everyone will get the joke – on the night I saw them, an entire family sat stony-faced across the aisle from me, at one point looking around in bewilderment as if to try and spot what it was that everyone else was laughing at – but for audiences whose comedic tastes learn towards the absurd, New Art Club’s deranged folk dances with invisible children, colourful unitards, and inspired tributes to Australian icons are certain to have you in stitches.

Witty, silly, and highly recommended.

New Art Club
Big Bag of Boom
The Bosco, City Square
March 31 – April 24

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
March 30 – April 24

For more festival coverage see our dedicated MICF mini-site.

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts