Wednesday 18 April 2018

Absolutely Normal - Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Showko - “Laughing Child” in Japanese - is the number one rakugo performer in Australia, and she returns to the Melbourne stage with her show, Absolutely Normal. Disappointingly, Showko is the only rakugo performer in Australia, as this art form is so rich on imagination and creativity that it would be great to have the opportunity to see it more often. Originating in Japan, rakugo is a 400-year-old traditional form of comic storytelling using minimal props with the performer kneeling on a cushion. Movement, action and characters are all conveyed through body language, voice and facial expressions.

Dresser in a shiny silver yukata, Showko warms up the audience with some anecdotes about life in Japan and Australia. They are stories of the everyday but her enthusiasm makes them seem far more exciting than they are, which could be considered a lesson in how to approach and appreciate rakugo. This pays off for the audience when it comes to her rakugo story about a cherry tree that allows us to easily be transported into the world she describes.

Absolutely Normal is full of eye-catching puppetry, excellent ventriloquism and engaging stories. Her ventriloquism of a badly dubbed Casablanca is a highlight of this show. Much time and effort that has gone into creating these puppets and there is an eagerness in the room on what Showko will bring out next. 

Absolutely Normal is a well-structured show that gentle immerses the audiences into rakugo theatre. When we live in a time where all we seem to want is to be consumed by visual stimuli, rakugo puts the focus back on the importance of story. You can’t help but walk out of this show with a smile on your face, perhaps Showko has lived up to her name and put everyone in touch with their inner child. 

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: until 22 April | 6:45pm, Sun 5:45pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full |
$22 Conc
Bookings: MICF website

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