P.O.R.T.E.N.Z.A. Neal Portenza. The name should strike fear into anyone who does not like audience participation, because once Neal has you in his sights there's no point fighting it. Even sitting in the back of the room will not save you as Neal roams up and down just waiting for something to happen. A sneeze, a phone ringing and even a velcro strap will set Neal off on a tangent that is completely improvised but incredibly hilarious.
Neal is the creation of Josh Ladgrove - who makes sure we know that he has two degrees
from the University of Melbourne, making him smarter than us in every way - and the character is the embodiment of what laughter and good times are. There is a huge
sense of fun during the entire show, taking inspiration from the mundane, the
silly and the downright absurd. It would certainly be an experience to be able
to see the world through Ladgrove's and / or Portenza's point of view.
Joining Neal on stage in P.O.R.T.E.N.Z.A is his evil brother Gary and
the sweet but slightly unnerving Mary (both played by Ladgrove). Gary in
particular allows Ladgrove to play a more sinister, straight character and he
seems to relish this change. There is an overall theme this time where Neal
attempts to learn a basic magic trick. It's different to previous viewings
of the show, however it works extremely well with Ladgrove milking the idea as
much as he can, that pays off handsomely for the audience.
There may be hundreds of performances on during the Melbourne International
Comedy Festival but there is genuinely something special about a Neal Portenza
show that puts it a cut above the rest. It's a moment to experience comedy for
the sake of comedy, laughter for the sake of laughter and fun for the sake of
fun. Now, do you get it?
Click here to read my interview with Josh Ladgrove.
Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr. Swantson and Collins St, Melbourne.
Season: until 23 April | Tues - Sat 9.30pm, Sun 8:30pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc | $22 Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website
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