How much hijinks can a dead man get up to? Quite a lot if you are Dani Cabs and Barnie Duncan. Using the cult classic 80s film Weekend at Bernie's as the premise for their new Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Weekend At Barnie's has Cabs (Poncho Orange) and Duncan flexing their physical theatre and clowning skills in a way that would make Bernie very proud.
Duncan is brilliant as a stiff and really allows his body to be flung left, right and centre by Cabs, and various people from the audience, to create some ridiculously entertaining moments. Cabs play off Duncan's antics perfectly and while performing the relatively 'straight' man role of the two, he still manages to bring his own quirks into the character.
While the physical comedy skills of Duncan and Cabs are impressive, watching the character of Dani struggle with the pretence that the character of Barnie is alive is not sustainable for the laughs to keep flowing (just like the movie). While there are some genuinely funny scenes, particularly when Barnie's body finds its way into the audience, it begins to get repetitive and somewhat predictable.
What works with Weekend At Barnie's is the structure. On one
hand, there is a story that progresses forwards with Dani attempting to get
through the evening's gig, and on the
other we have a story that is going backwards beginning (or ending?) with
Barnie's untimely demise. It's a well-crafted narrative technique and the distinction between the
two stories is emphasised with some clever lighting and sound cues between scene changes.
There is much potential for this physical comedy / clowning performance to grow and I look forward to seeing how it prospers. With some further work on how to maintain the momentum for this show, Duncan and Cabs should be able to find a way to breathe more life into Weekend At Barnie's.
Venue: The Tuxedo Cat, 293-299 La Trobe St, Melbourne.
Season: Until 23 April | Tues, Thurs - Sat, 7.15pm, Sun 6:15pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $22 Full | $17.80 Conc
Bookings: MICF website