The Increasingly Handsome Adventures of Earl Bircher and Other Tales of Adventure!
In the bowels of Trades Hall, a multi-room performance space in Carlton, there lies a basement of books. In this basement of books, a curtain of cloth contained a pair of hatstands of head-coverings. “Hatstands of Head-coverings?” I hear you ask? Surely so, there are hatstands of headcoverings contained in a curtain of cloth in a basement of books in the bowels of Trades Hall. What are they for? The Increasingly Handsome Adventures of Earl Bircher (and Other Tales of Adventure!), of course.
Lee Naimo plays the titular role of Earl Bircher, the heir to a muesli fortune, setting out to prove his worth to his father. In a not-so-classic case of mistaken identity, Amanda Buckley, as a British secret agent, thinks he’s an inappropriately (and hilariously) named triple agent. When Lliam Amor enters the scene as a slightly flamboyant and cartoonishly German villain, the skit-based comedy show kicks off into a wittily written hour of fun.
A well structured show, The Increasingly Handsome Adventures sandwiches a vast number of unrelated skits between a continuous story thread – maintaining the intensity required for many skits to work successfully, while keeping interest high over the whole hour. While some of the skits relied heavily on racial stereotypes and accents for easy humour, these were always performed with honest intent, and were never the punch-line or made in ignorance. Others relied on utter silliness, hilarious and unexpected names, and more than once the fourth wall was broken. Use of audio and offstage voice was particularly impressive and exceptionally clever in the small space available.
One of the only weak points was in Lee Naimo’s performance. While certainly funny, it often felt as if he was only partially invested, and while the deadpan style was endearing, given how many different characters were played by each performer, it would have been helpful for some to have different energy levels to others. Even so, the trio was always exciting to watch, and their dynamic was very enjoyable – it would be excellent to see another show in a slightly larger venue, I think they would adapt to the challenge very well.
The Increasingly Handsome Adventures of Earl Bircher (and Other Tales of Adventure!) is an hour of power by a trio of talented troupers. Thoroughly enjoyable, and several different varieties of silly, it’ll have you switching your porridge for muesli. Playing at The Bookshop, Trades Hall, 28th March to 7th April, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.