***** STARS

By Jessica Taurins

Lauren Bok, like everyone else, was stuck inside for the entirety of last year. She also, like everyone else, took up gardening, and for a portion of her extremely-elegantly-titled show – It’s a Long Way to the Bok (If You Wanna Sausage Roll) – she tells us the story of her becoming an old man day by day as she browses the gardens in her suburb and chats with people she never thought she’d actually meet: her neighbours.

The rest of Sausage Roll (which is what I’ve decided the show’s shorthand title should be) is a series of vignettes, influenced by both Bok’s life and her mind, and occasionally by purely her body as well. Bok has an intriguing way of threading the fantastic with the mundane in her routine, enhancing true stories about working at McDonald’s with enchanting tales of bored mafia men who plan extravagant pranks on McDonald’s employees. Her storytelling and stand-up elements are a real delight and highlight of the performance, with laughs at every turn.

Notably, Bok is not just a storyteller, but something of a quadruple threat performer. She says she does “mimes, burlesque, stand up, and silly voices”, and that’s not even all of it! She also pulls faces that are funny as well. Her talent for accents is well-used throughout the show, and while they’re not always the most accurate to what she’s going for, they’re hilarious nonetheless. (Additionally, she makes a lot of extremely-relatable unintelligible angry noises which, after this nightmare of a year, perfectly delivers the general feeling of some interactions she describes.)

She also, quite fittingly for the intimate Butterfly Club performance space, gets her clothes off a bit. In an unexpected opening number, Bok performs a burlesque routine to massive applause, wiggling all sorts of body parts to make the tassels spin. This is not the only naughty part of the routine – something ‘arises’ again later during another part-burlesque part-mime act – but it is the most delightful, as she really looks like she’s having crazy levels of fun while shaking her booty around. Even if the entire performance had been nothing but that opening, I think it would have been a fantastic use of my evening.

Bok’s mime sequences are probably the most unexpected-yet-enjoyable part of Sausage Roll, coming second only to the extended sequence written around DeBono’s Thinking Hats, a theory  learned in my childhood that I had completely erased from my brain until this show. Bok’s talent for wordless emotion is through the roof, like moon-level out of this world, and it was so much fun watching her get in and out of a boiling hot bath as though it was literally there on stage. She has a number of other mimed sequences as well, some of which again were mental fiction and some of which were likely based on very real events. Regardless of the level of fantasy, following the tale of each story was so easy despite Bok’s silence, and they really tickled the audience to boot.

Sausage Roll does round out the performance with Bok’s story about the show’s title, which is also a cracker of a segment. Bok’s strengths come through in every moment of her performance, shining even through the occasional flubbed word and possibly-scripted meta elements of the show. For a fairly recent performer – her first show was in 2016 – she’s surely growing immensely throughout every new sketch and story she writes, and will definitely be someone to catch every year.