a funny, thoughtful, and caustic encapsulation of normative society
Soma | Review
Pete | Festival Freak
10 Mar, 2013
MKA’s SOMA: mass audience ejections and more WTFs-per-minute than I previously thought possible. Loved it.
Truth be told, it’s mention of Huxley’s drug of societal control that drew me to MKA’s work; and, once I’d committed to seeing SOMA, my OCD kicked in and compelled me to try and see all the MKA shows. So – I can thank my Year 11 exposure to Brave New World for this.
Written and performed by Tobias Manderson-Galvin, he introduces this bizarre parody of a late-night talk show by constantly referring to himself in the third person – and believe me, when you’ve heard “Tobias Manderson-Galvin” repeated half-a-dozen times in thirty seconds, the words take on a comedy all of their own. Within the construct of the personality-driven variety show, Manderson-Galvin engages the audience – and society at large – with wry observation, and occasional bitter and biting accusations.
Levity is well weighted, and the odd audience interaction piece was made even more amusing by the fact that (for much of the show) there were only three available participants, leading to an awkward crowd surfing on a waveboard exercise. But the callbacks to the show’s mind-numbing namesake, and the context in which they’re performed, seem to honour Huxley’s vision of “utopia” – even if the show is a mish-mash of anything but.
But, more memorable than the show itself (or the trio of audients) was the fact that six drunk burly men walked into the performance (without paying) and parked at a bench in the shadows. It didn’t take long for them to start mumbling between themselves, and from there it was only a matter of seconds before Manderson-Galvin asked them, in no uncertain terms, to fuck off.
They declined his request, and started hurling abuse.
And then, in one of the ballsier demonstrations of crowd control, Manderson-Galvin (who, it must be noted, is tallish – but extremely scrawny, and dressed in an incredibly odd manner – even considering that it’s Fringe-time) storms off stage and gets right in their faces.
“Have you paid? No? Well… fuck off then. Get the fuck out. FUCK OFF.”
(The last profanity was delivered with a guttural yell.)
Given the inebriation and physical appearance of the drunkards, I was expecting things to go really pear-shaped… but, after some consternation and derogatory comments, the group left… one of them dropping a cheap parting shot: “You’re the worst comedian ever.”
But, on the basis of the satire present in SOMA, Manderson-Galvin is certainly not the worst comedian ever; instead, he’s produced a funny, thoughtful, and caustic encapsulation of normative society’s ills.