Sunday 3 April 2022

Bunny review (Melbourne International Comedy Fetival)

New Zealand performer Barnie Duncan returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a show that is quite unlike what he has done in the past. His trademark absurdity is still evident in Bunny, but Duncan's dissection of whether dancing at a nightclub at 3am was a way of dealing with his grief or avoiding it after his mother passed away last year, adds a level of intimacy and vulnerability that is often difficult to convey on stage.

While a few jokes don't land that well, or have been tacked on for a cheap laugh (Will Smith's Oscars behaviour is already such a tired punchline), Duncan shows strong control of the audience and meeting the expectations we have upon entering this surreal show about clubbing and death. The unique way in which Duncan sees and understands the world is clearly presented, and with an open heart he shares the complexities of dealing with grief and mourning the death of a loved one, particularly during a pandemic.

But it's not a Barnie Duncan show without some incredible physical comedy and clowning and once again, he comes up trumps again. From an antagonistic orange to a stunned caterpillar to simply a guy having a dance at 3am, Duncan fully commits to the character that allows for a deeper connection to the overall story being told and in turn becomes more open and authentic with the audience. This is also due to his collaborations with choreographer Olivia Tennet and DJ Dick 'Magik' Johnson who provides the original soundtrack for the show. The well-considered movements and the beats that pulsate through the performance space add another layer to the conflicting emotions that Duncan is going through. This isn't movement for movement's sake, but movement and dance with a purpose, showing how confused, alone and stuck in his head he is. 

If you've seen a Barnie Duncan show before and hoping to see more of the same, you're in for a pleasant surprise with this gem. If you've never seen a Barnie Duncan show before, then Bunny is the perfect show to be introduced to this comedian's charm and insights. The longer you sit with Bunny, the bigger the mark that it leaves on you becomes. It is a heartfelt goodbye to a loved one and a moving and unforgettable performance by Duncan.


Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St, Soutbank
until 10 April, Tue - Sat 8:15pm, Sun 7:15pm
60 minutes
$35 Full | $32 Concession | $28 Tightarse Tuesday
Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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