The punch line is the first victim

— REVIEW of ’22 Short Plays’ | Marginalia

22 Short Plays | Review

David Finnigan’s 22 Short Plays, the second in MKA’s three performance pop-up theatre, is a surreal comedy of sketches, part-Monty Python, part-Noel Fielding in its studied wackiness. The kids might call it ‘so random’. It is a show which taps into the same zeitgeist as Adelaide’s own Golden Phung who, like Finnigan, make theatre which borrows heavily from TV sources and is refreshingly unencumbered by any of comedy’s golden rules. The punch line is the first victim.

            Each short play is prefaced by a pre-recorded announcement of its title, all bizarre and funny. To give just a little of the show’s flavour, one sketch is called ‘Cum Goblin’, and is a sort of parody of a 19th century romantic novel in which two men debate the unusual nickname of the title being applied to one of their lovers. Another sketch – ‘Slave Market at the Top of a Ski Lift’ – is absurd comedy par excellence, meaninglessly mashing up historical epochs and literary tropes to hilarious effect. This is comedy with no real targets, taking aim only at tired genre conventions and, perhaps, the contemporary attention span which, in the age of YouTube, seems to demand more and more in less and less time.

            The three performers – Tom Dent, Conor Gallacher and Kerith Manderson-Galvin – impress with their gusto, comic flair and, it must be said, persistence in the extreme heat of the pop-up theatre’s beer garden setting. As with all sketch-based comedy, 22 Short Plays is a hit and miss affair, but Dent, Gallacher and Manderson-Galvin – under the incisive direction of the latter’s brother and MKA Creative Director, Tobias – are unstinting in their commitment to the silliness; no mean feat under lights in 35 plus-degree temperatures.

“The punch line is the first victim”