Saturday 21 October 2023

Am I The Drama? review (Melbourne Fringe Festival)

Andy Balloch is one of those performers who relishes being on stage. He's genuinely delighted to be up there and bringing people happiness and escapism. In Am I The Drama?, Balloch takes his audience on a (theme park) ride inside the thoughts that occur in his head, and after watching this show, it's definitely one where you need to strap yourself in tight.

Balloch is a gifted storyteller who moves at a frenetic pace that could easily derail the performance but he knows when to step on the breaks and when to start speeding up. There are a couple of speed bumps along the way but the audience is in good hands with the comedian. (This is also where I stop with the ride analogies).

Dressed in the shiniest of outfits, Balloch weaves family history and contemporary issues, primarily around LGBTQ ones, into a concoction of sketch, stand up and confessional theatre. There is a clever structure here and Balloch plays with the form as he recalls his grandfather's escape from Nazis in World War 2, to him dating three different people called Troy, and to the division the Australian Christian Lobby brings out in people and the legitimate cause for concern over the increasing hostility and threat to their safety that LGBTQ people are facing. Suddenly the flashbacks to his grandfather fleeing from persecution don't seem like a thing of the past.

Balloch accepts his white, male privilege upbringing and admits he has made racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments in the past, and while we don't need to hear them, it would be interesting to dig deeper into these moments and learn how he reflects on this and in turn, how we can all do better. He is clearly capable of toeing the line between truth bombs and absurdity so let’s explore this more.

There are numerous times when Balloch jokingly questions if the $11,000 he spent studying improv in America is justified based on his miming skills in Am I The Drama?, and while the jury is still out on this, you can be assured that the money spent on a ticket to Am I The Drama? is well worth it. It's a high energy show that highlights pressing societal issues by a fervent performer.

Show Details

Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton
Season: until 22 October | 8:15pm, Sun 7:15pm
Duration: 55 minutes
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Concession
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image credit: Cameron Grant

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