The writing’s on the wall…

By Myron My

Performing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Public Toilets, Private Words takes a look at just what its title proclaims. The inspiration for the whole comedy cabaret-esque show is taken from graffiti found scrawled on toilet cubicles, including that of the venue in which they are performing: La Mama Theatre. It’s because of this that the show has been able to constantly evolve and grow over time as different graffiti is found and different actors are able to bring different ideas to the show.

Public Toilets Private Words

This season’s performers – Tom Albert, Caitlin Armstrong and Eloise Maree (the creative producer of Public Toilets, Private Words since its creation in 2011) – have brilliant banter, and the interaction with the audience feels genuine and not at all contrived. Whenever artists are breaking that wall with audience members, it opens them up to unpredictability and the cast manage this with aplomb and an easy casualness that makes them all very likeable.

The three work with various ideas stemming from the graffiti of public restrooms such as theories as to why people choose to graffiti toilets in the first place, and then take a humorous look-back at the history of toilet graffiti. This is intermixed with monologues and thoughts pertaining to the topic at hand, which sometimes get a bit too serious for a show in a comedy festival. Even with their acknowledgement of the irony, these interludes feel out of place.

The artists are a talented trio: Albert plays a variety of musical instruments and the obvious singing ability of all three help support the various types of songs they perform. My highlight of the evening though would be the ‘dance’ number to Swan Lake – very enjoyable to watch.

As a comedy show, Public Toilets Private Words does not always hit the mark. The humour is often side-stepped and the laughs are not plentiful. However as a performance piece, it is an interesting concept and a unique show, which brings depth to an idea that most people would not even think twice about.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street Carlton
Season: Until 13 April | Wed, Fri 6pm, Thurs, Sat 9pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc
or 9347 6142