Every now and again you come across a show that days later continues to linger on your mind, and to be perfectly honest, you wouldn't expect it to be from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. However, Richard Gadd has done just that with Monkey See, Monkey Do, a comedic yet honest look at mental health and masculinity.
For six years Gadd has had a monkey on his back, filling his every thought with anxiety and worry. His attempts to outrun it lead to momentary reprieves but it always finds its way back. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that the entirety of the show is spent with Gadd running on a treadmill as he tries to escape the monkey's grasp. It effectively creates the physical manifestation of the exhaustion
and relentless nature of dealing with anxiety and depression.
Money See, Monkey Do is split up into three segments which Gadd ties in perfectly by the end of the show. The first one involves an internal monologue as Gadd jogs through his neighbourhood, hearing how he over analyses the slightest action or reaction from those he interacts with. The second involves him competing for a 'Man’s Man' competition and the preparation he puts into being crowned the ultimate manly man.
The last one, and the most sombre of the three, has Gadd play recordings of his counselling sessions in an attempt to better his mental health. These sessions reveal the catalyst to Gadd's shame and inability to connect with people, though the unique way he chooses to visually tell this part of the story ensures the tone doesn't become too dark and the audience never feel overwhelmed. Gadd refuses to be defined by this experience and nor is the show, and so he uses it as an opening for a wider conversation on mental health and masculinity.
Monkey See, Monkey Do left me in near tears, from laughter and from something much deeper. Gadd has created an unflinchingly honest show that encourages people, women and men, to talk about their feelings, because when that monkey appears, it is bloody hard work to escape it, something which Gadd seems to have succeeded in doing.
Venue: ACMI, Federation Square
Season: until 23 April | Tues - Sat 8:30pm, Sun 7:30pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $31.50 - $33.50 Full | $28 Conc and Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website