They’ve done it again! The stellar comedy duo of Roby Favretto and Caitlin Spears have blown the Fringe world out of the water with their new show Purgastory.
Having seen Cactus and the Mime at last year’s Fringe, I jumped at the chance to experience their latest Fringe offering, and my eagerness was satisfied by this millennia-traversing gem. Presenting four unique but intertwining narratives in the one show, the pair navigated their way through Victorian womanhood, extraterrestrial dolls, abuses of power in Hollywood, and the creative aspirations of tradesmen, bringing indefatigable energy to each role.
Indeed, the commitment of the performers set the standard for a production filled with effective storytelling devices such unique soundscapes that evoked each time period in audiences minds and highlighted the links between each narrative strand. The employment of adaptable set and prop items, used entirely throughout, also added to the cohesiveness of the work – a challenge given the large task the pair created for themselves in tackling four distinct time periods in the course of an hour-long show. While the work is ambitious Favretto and Spears have proven they are capable of creating intricate and highly entertaining theatre.
Having had the pleasure of witnessing their last two Fringe contributions, it has been joyous to see the growth of this duo on stage, particularly with reference to their humour. Though Purgastory contained elements of the so-bad-it’s-good humour of Cactus and the Mime, replacing the puppet sex with such phrases as “Don’t quote Barbra Streisand at me, ya fuck mullet” and “Let bygones be bogans”, their comedy overall has matured. Focusing more on situational and observational humour with moving results – especially in the interactions between an elderly man who dreamed of being a writer and the gay, drag queen son of the man who denied him his right to pursue this goal – Purgastory is brimming with heart.
Despite fluctuating between historical and social contexts and bearing the title it does, there was nothing liminal or ambivalent about the quality of the work and the talent its creators possess. Part of me wonders if they share the same brain, as their compatibility on stage is unparalleled. I’ll say it – their geniuses, and I’d gladly watch them read the phone book. The only thing I would question is the inclusion of a linking storyline in which Favretto played a narcissistic and vomit-inducing music producer, but given the nature of that brief interlude I can see why they chose to include it.
I am already eagerly awaiting the next instalment from Favretto and Spears and would encourage people to get to the Lithuanian Club and experience this truly original and fantastic comedy!