Accidents are prohibited on this road
Submitted by natasha boyd on Monday, 4th Oct 2010
Date of Show:Friday, 24th September 2010 (All day)
From the man that brought you the award-winning show Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle.
The wonderful thing about the Melbourne Fringe Festival is discovering little known gems – both in terms of venue and performers. Friday night I ventured out to North Melbourne and the home of Cabaret Voltaire. It’s a quaint little alternative art space and performance venue for one or two hand pieces – both comic and theatrical, and seems to be a popular venue for Gen X creative followers. Friday night’s main showcase was Russell McGilton’s one man show “Accidents are prohibited on this road” (taken from a real sign posting we learn whilst Russell biked his way in the Himalayas). Russell is no stranger to the comic travel log performance having had a sell out show back at the Fringe in 2005 with “Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle” which was later turned into a book by Penguin publishers.
For this show, McGilton is again solo, and sharing his verbal travel log of adventures to London, Wales, Scotland and Africa over 10 years earlier as a naive 20year old. McGilton’s affable manner on stage instantly warmed the packed audience to share their own places of travel before launching into his own story. Opening with a few twee shots of coffee, planes and signs, Russell moves well into his reasons for leaving Oz for an extended stay overseas – the crazy girlfriend who then doesn’t take the break up so well. His re-enactment of his private relationship moments were done with great effect and really allowed the audience to warm to his revelatory style of humour and performance.
McGilton’s talent lies in is his superb ability to seamlessly switch into alternate characters, and his excellent use of voice mimicry and mannerisms. This is something that is vital to maintaining audience interest in a one hour, one man show. Memorable moments were his renditions of times with his travelling companion, the Aussie bogan “Wayne” and the African housekeeper who Russell inadvertently shares a bed with after a drunken night out in South Africa which had the audience in stitches of laughter at the ‘pained’ scenarios he found himself in.
Russell’s style of storytelling involves replaying the travel scenes and interspersing them with music, sometimes accompanied with dance, and the lessons he’s learned as the older and younger versions of himself via powerpoint. These technology components sometimes slowed down the rhythm of the verbal journey, and would have perhaps worked better if he had integrated relevant photos or music to blend into the next phase of his expedition. The pace was also at times hampered by odd jumps from place to place or story to story, and perhaps from McGilton’s failure a couple of times to fully follow through on some stories with climatic finesse so vital to the style of comic storytelling– the stilted pausing before the punch line let down the overall story such as the Welsh man with the tracheotomy or at other times was not fully explored as it could have been such as his adventures with “Wayne” which surely provided the most laughs for the audience of this performance. However, McGilton is most effective when he does allow a story to be fully fleshed out, for his expressions and line delivery do draw the audience in to want to know what happened next, especially with the American woman who finds herself in a precarious position with a monkey.
The ending was clear cut and simple, and did leave the audience wanting more I thought – which can only be a good thing to show how engaged we all were with McGilton’s storytelling abilities and demonstrates he has a great career ahead of him – both in solo performance and one would think in more theatrical ensemble pieces if he so chooses.