Dark sensibility and deep vulnerability
By Bradley Storer
Comedic writer/performer extraordinaire Ash Flanders returns with his latest work, END. OF. Beginning in the doldrums of police transcriptions, Flanders moves down the river of memory in a journey that spans childhood, death and the eternal quest to be the funniest one in the room. Looming over proceedings is the long shadow cast by the indomitable Flanders matriarch, Heather Flanders, whose bombastic catch phrase gives the show its title.
Flanders’ usual mix of caustic camp and neurotic melancholy is underlaid here by a darker sensibility. Acid trips gone haywire and a trip to the slaughter house provide imagery bordering on true horror, Rachel Burke’s lighting and Tom Backhaus’ sound design combining with the text to create some deeply chilling moments.
Flanders is, as always, an effortlessly charismatic performer, needing little more than Nathan Burmeister’s simple (but quietly effective) set, his own comically lithe physicality and incisive turn of phrase to carry the entire show. The loveable narcissism of previous shows is tempered here by a deeper vulnerability in later sections and a beautifully realized joy that draws the work to its conclusion.
In a show that searches to unpick the meaning in making story and structure, Flanders wryly comments: ‘It’s hard to know what to hold on to when you believe in so little.’ Even as the show leaps through time and place within seconds (and it could be argued that some sections of the piece could be trimmed slightly), it is a credit to both the strength of Flanders’ writing and the canny direction of Stephen Nicolazzo that the whole flows together in emotional seamlessness.
A wonderful new work from an established comic performer that solidifies his continuing artistry, as well as expands his range into gorgeously new and beautiful territory!
Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote Town Hall
Date: 11 – 22 March
Times: Wed – Saturday 8:30pm, Sunday 6pm
Prices: $28 – $35