Sunday 2 April 2023

Case Numbers review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

Dylan Cole inherited a locked briefcase from his grandmother, and in Case Numbers, he takes the audience through the mystery of cracking the code and what he found inside it. But before that, he needs to advise us of some pre-show notes and disclaimers so that we are fully aware of what we are getting into.

Over the next twenty minutes, Cole goes through almost twenty points of reference for us, stressing that there is no beginning, its middle is pointless and the ending is endless. And the following forty minutes? Well that would almost ruin the surprise, but it does involve a number of dated pop references (although it depends how old you are because I knew pretty much all of them) and ties to 1990 American submarine spy thriller and Sean Connery film, The Hunt for Red October.

Sometimes, the festival a show appears in can impact how it’s received. In this instance, one can't help but wonder if this would fare better in a Fringe Festival rather than a Comedy Festival. Cole tells us at the start, this is not a comedy show but he also tells us he lies all the time, so which one is true...but what takes place here resembles more of a lecture or exposition on writing conventions and structure, and the laughs are not as constant as one would expect.

If you prefer your comedy / theatre to be more meta and analytical than straight up funny and gaggy, then Case Numbers is the perfect outing for you. While not every joke lands and the structure can wear a little thin, seeing how Cole can stretch it out and keep the repetitive nature of the show fresh is interesting to watch unfold. Be warned though, there is a strong possibility you will walk out with an earworm that you really don't want, and 12 hours later, it is still playing inside my head.


Greek Centre, 168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Season: until 9 April | Tues - Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm
Length: 50 minutes

Tickets: $28 Full | $22 Conc | $15 Tightarse Tuesday

Bookings: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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