By Lyn Zelen
There is no End Of laughs in Ash Flanders’ monologue.
Flanders “unpacks” idiosyncratic family influences, in the neoclassical grand main hall of the Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre.
Flanders’ brilliant brand of highbrow humour and caricatures come straight from an Altona Abattoir, the backstreets of Brighton, a car park in Collingwood and a Bayside five-star aged care facility.
Writer and performer Ash Flanders shares infectious accounts of work woes, family traits and lineage under the discerning direction of Stephen Nicolazzo and a masterful production team.
Flanders works as a transcriber hoping for interesting writing material. Standing with his back to the audience for the longest time, he procrastinates over cups of water at the office cooler. It’s no place for an artiste; everyone types away in silence wearing noise-cancellation headphones, trying to be promoted above ‘level one’ and award wages.
Filing away another non-descript transcript, Flanders reiterates a hilarious anecdote about his “real writing”. A play he co-wrote with a mate from his University days and how they found themselves at a knackery, tracking down actual entrails to create what his mate Declan called, ‘a realistic scene’ for their upcoming production. Flanders articulates and animates the satirical story in eerie ‘slaughter-house’ red lighting, accompanied by pipe organ music that vibrates the grand hall.
Flanders lights a cigarette and we see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree regarding the origins of his habits and life choices. Ash jokes about his name being conceived by his heavy-drinking, chain-smoking mother asking his father to pass her an ashtray.
Ash recalls his attention-starved “middle-child” perspective from the back seat of their family car. Raucous laughter filled the hall as Flanders describes one of his mother’s “thrill of the kill” moments. He impersonated his cold-calculating mother driving behind a surly schoolboy on a bicycle who’d flipped her the bird.
The Flanders clan satirical home theatrics influenced his friendships, lifestyle and mortality. Flanders couples a comedic rant with acrobatics recollecting a night stuck in the “afterworld”—having a “bad trip” with friends in an underground car park.
End Of. deliberates a number of controversial topics and the dynamic monologue slows down to a sincere slower pace. Flanders walks us through more recent times to a comical day at the age-care facility.
Flanders delivers running gags and candid observations that resonate with everyone.
Images: Claryssa Humennyj-Jameson.