What's in a name? It certainly doesn't matter in Joshua Ladgrove’s Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza Neal Portenza. Tracey, but it is a clear indication of the type of show this is. It is 60 minutes of comedy that will have you snorting with laughter, squirming in your seat and wondering what goes on inside Neal Portenza’s – and Ladgrove’s - head, all at the same time.
As with his previous shows, this is a combination of scripted absurdist comedy
with many opportunities for improvisation and off-the-cuff humour, with much of
this born from Ladgrove's interactions with his audience. A running joke on the
night I attended was based around two people working in the medical profession
and Ladgrove attempting to explain things in medical terms so that they would
It's the type of show that the more the audience feeds him, the bigger and
crazier the show will get, such as the woman who very happily volunteered to
lick sauce off Ladgrove's chest and a male audience member nonchalantly
removing his t-shirt because he was asked to. However, Ladgrove is aware of
boundaries and there is never a moment where anyone who puts their hand up is
made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, as his skill at reading the room is
While this is a one man show, Ladgrove’s tech, Nathan, is just as involved in Neal
Portenza et al, telling him what to do and also what not to do, and injecting
moments into the show that seem to genuinely surprise Ladgrove and delight the
audiences. It’s a great, collaborative relationship the two seem to share and adds another element of the unexpected for the audience.
There’s no story or over-arching theme in this type of comedy. To even
attempt it, would be a disservice to Ladgrove and the work he is trying to
create: because for a moment in time, you were in a room, watching Neal Portenza
doing things and saying things that are so utterly ridiculous that you cannot
help but laugh. A lot.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Sunday 24 July | 8.30pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club
*Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 23 July 2016.