Performance review: Strictly Barking

This uplifting children’s comedy show features dancing and innocent humour.

Comedic duo Jon and Ollie turned FRINGE WORLD into a hub of hilarity with Strictly Barking, a children’s comedy in which a man dressed as a dog (as evidenced by the brown beanie, corduroy pants and furry ears) and a man dressed as a man (in a grey wig and human pants) joined forces to enter a ballroom dancing competition. 

The man was known as Hogarth and the dog was Easy Peeler – a totally normal name for a dancing canine. With hat-dropping, fruit-throwing panache, Hogarth and Easy Peeler got up close and personal with lucky front-row-sitters. Easy Peeler won the hearts of the audience, and the affections of his dance buddy. 

Jon (Hogarth) and Ollie (Easy Peeler) each played multiple roles, intermittently donning black to become an unconventional mayor and his controlling cat, Steven. Ollie was appropriately dramatic as the mayor, while Jon made a side-splittingly villainous feline, whose weapon of choice was a spray bottle. This resulted in a fair amount of water being squirted into the audience. 

The crowd got excited when balls flew at their heads and some well-placed riffs got everyone clapping along. Younger children particularly enjoyed the ‘look behind you’ style of slapstick, and the way the actors bounced comedically off one another – sometimes literally. 

Jon and Ollie embodied their respective characters with gusto – relying on movement, posture and expression to reveal the bulk of the overall narrative. A simple set and minimal props kept attention centred squarely on the performers – a good move – allowing sound effects and music to set the scenes and underline a variety of non-verbal punchlines. 

Read: Performance review: The Rainbow Tree

Physical comedy and visual gags punctuated this playful story, which was delivered with joyful enthusiasm. The costumes were effective, the dancing entertained and the theatrical prowess of this comedic duo turned a good script into a great kids’ show, replete with innocent humour. Dancing bananas have never been so appealing.

Strictly Barking was an uplifting show for children, caregivers and canine-lovers of every age.

Strictly Barking, Oliver Nilsson and Jonathan Tilley
The Pocket at the Pleasure Garden, WA

Strictly Barking was performed as part of Perth’s FRINGE WORLD from 20-29 January 2023.

Nanci Nott is a nerdy creative with particular passions for philosophy and the arts. She has completed a BA in Philosophy, and postgraduate studies in digital and social media. Nanci is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, and is working on a variety of projects ranging from novels to video games. Nanci loves reviewing books, exhibitions, and performances for ArtsHub, and is creative director at Defy Reality Entertainment.