Now in its 29th season both bigger and bolder than ever, this year the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has grown to host more than 400 exciting new shows. Featuring local talent and guests from around the world, the various acts range from stand – up to cabaret, sketches, plays, debates, improvisation and musicals. Without a doubt, there is something on offer for everyone.
Hot on the heels of their critically – acclaimed debut in Pajama Party, the 2015 Moosehead Award recipients Sarah Jones and Nicholas Johnson have combined forces for the second time to present Jonestown – Guinea Pigs.
What begins as a traditional stand – up routine from Jones working the room with the punch lines flying thick and fast, quickly builds into something entirely different once Johnson enters the picture. Relying heavily on mime, tricky wordplay, mind games, shadow puppets and flashback storytelling, this is where the real run begins as things aren't what they seem. Or are they?
Is it a mystery thriller? Is it a class reunion? Is it simply a dream? For 60 fast – paced minutes, sit back and enjoy the rollercoaster ride as Jones and Johnson find ways to outsmart one another and their potential captor (voiced by Andy McClelland), keeping them confined for his, theirs, and our collective entertainment.
From covert marshmallow eating contests to Morgan Freeman voiceover impersonations firing off at ten paces, fans of popular culture will appreciate the absurdity of psychometric testing, reality television and classic movie references combined. This intellectual and original, yet highly accessible routine will leave one satisfied yet wanting more. See it twice!
Jonestown – Guinea Pigs appears to be a show that takes tremendous gambles, and by walking a tight rope with extensive audience interaction, such risk – taking commitment pays off in spades. The tightly scripted nature of the experience however, still has a theatre sports freedom that constantly keeps one guessing where the plot is heading next. (Thanks to the Portland Hotel’s appropriately chosen space, be warned however, no one is safe from selection!)
Like the best comic duos, Jones and Johnson energetically bounce of each other like crazed Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes characters. Between the two of them they create a playful tug of war, constantly grabbing or relinquishing the upper hand.
Jonestown – Guinea Pigs plays at the MICF until April 19. Don’t miss out!