As I joined a queue that spanned the entire Malthouse foyer to see Lawrence Leung as part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I think, this many people is a sure sign this show is a winner- the crowd was not wrong.
Leung’s latest offering, Very Strange Things, features experiment’s, mind games and impossible coincidences, and enough Star Wars references to make this geek weep. Not your average stand up show, Leung takes us on a psychological journey of whimsy in the Beckett Theatre at The Malthouse. Come along with a broad and open mind, as each experiment fosters a new sense of mystery, wonder and intrigue in the audience members, who can’t for the life of them work out how the ‘tricks’ work, and half of them don’t want to.
Leung does preface the show by asking who of us are mystery lovers and who are problem solvers, and by the end of the show it’s interesting to see who’s changed sides, and who has stuck to their original answer- sceptic, or believer.
Not unlike the special science or guest entertainer shows we would have sat through in high school, Leung masters the rubix cube, tests our ESP, cold reads long dead pet details following a séance, and many more, all while being hauntingly and disarmingly charming and amusing with his audience members. He’s witty and tricky and gets the audience every time, with the gasps growing louder and the applause rowdier each trick he reveals. It’s the intelligent and educated magic show for adults we didn’t know we needed, but definitely want.
Audiences beware though, my favourite moment of the evening was when he called for people in the audience to raise their hands if they had had a pet pass away, and to raise their hand, cross their heart and close their eyes while he muttered six words that strike fear in the heart of humans everywhere: “Who wants to be a volunteer?” Audience participation is a must, and if you are not ready to be a part of the strange things happening, I’d advise you to sit in the back half of the theatre.
Exploring the weird and wonderful relationships people have with each other and the world around them, the show left our audience desperately wanting to know more but not wanting to destroy the mystery with how it works. Leung successfully inspires the whimsy, curiosity and problem solving of the audience, however his tricks need to be seen to believed, and they are not to be missed at the Beckett Theatre at The Cooper’s Malthouse Theatre until 17 April.