Fresh off their television show Sammy J and Randy in Ricketts Lane, they’re back with their first narrative stage show in four years, following a tour de force of international accolades and shows.
Sam McMillian and Heath McIvor, who make up the duo, have a ball of a time in Sammy J and Randy Land. Having borrowed three million dollars to open up an amusement park, the show follows the train wreck that ensues as the pair prepare to shock, educate and entertain potential theme park goers.
Sammy J and Randy have once again delivered the kids style puppet show for adults that makes one nostalgic about their youth, and grateful to have grown up. Their easy breezy, no holds bar style of comedy is easy to follow, with elements of slapstick humour and musical theatre weaved into the show. Costuming for Sammy J, McIvor and for Randy the puppet is great, from the exuberance of Sammy J’s ring master outfit to the appearances of McIvor in budgey smugglers and a ‘Dr Chris Brown the vet’ head. Sammy J has never looked better than appearing in his Copacabana inspired ruffled sleeves.
The set is bright and fun, simple in its large set pieces including a circus tent cut out and a giant juice box, which becomes both a backdrop for both shadow puppetry and Punch and Judy style hand puppets. Lighting sets the scene and mood well, with particular attention paid to the very well done red and blue police lighting. Paired with loud music for set changes, it’s disappointing to see that the clever and well-planned use of music is undercut by audio issues, leaving audience members feeling quite deaf after the show. While The Athenaeum doesn’t seem to have the best sound levels, especially when sitting in the stalls, the music seems abundantly loud, even drowning out Sammy J’s opening number and the songs from his original musical performed at the theme park, A J In The Life.
The props and puppetry are superb, from the “tax deductible bowling balls” to giant sling shot, shadow puppets and additional puppet parts (I won’t ruin why), the show is dynamic and well coordinated, even at the messiest of set and prop changing times. The changes between scenes and puppets are quick and well executed when they are time or reveal driven, but a little sloppy around the edges in other parts. You’d hardly notice it however, as the two charming performers make even the slightest blip into an endearing joke or self deprecating belly laugh.
The performances are high energy and very physical, with the ever flexible Sammy J bending over backwards to involve the audience, crack a joke about the festival or his purple co star or running around the set.
This is a really fun night out at the theatre, for all ages over 16+, due to its naughty language and adult sexual themes. If you’re looking for a theatrical style, puppet filled, wild ride of a laugh this season, you should not miss Sammy J and Randy Land at the Athenaeum Theatre.