Melbourne Fringe 2011

Bluey by Phil Spencer

0 Comments 07 October 2011

It’s safe to say Phil Spencer’s solo performance will be the only show at the Fringe Festival that will have you browsing monkey puppets on eBay well into the morning.

In Bluey, Spencer uses a monkey puppet Alfred to tell the story of his father, a British RAF Sergeant sent off to Iraq for six months in 2003.

Spencer goes through the journey that his father went on overseas with Alfred’s deep voice memorably bellowing “I’ve been a chef for over 20 years and here I am monitoring a Paki guy cooking nine hours a day.”

At home Spencer tells of the family conflict that came from him protesting his father being in the armed forces.

The performer doesn’t try and be either a ventriloquist or an expert puppeteer, but for the first ten minutes where the monkey is a novelty all eyes will be on the puppet.

Spencer jokingly asks the audience to imagine that they are in Iraq, that the stool is a bunk bed and that the stage is surrounded by desert.

Spencer is also good at moving the puppet, even having it hilariously lie down on the bunks.

With the help of guitarist Brett playing thrash- metal raid sirens, you do almost feel like you are there.

The show isn’t hilarious, but it isn’t trying to be. With Spencer and Brett’s good banter there are no lulls throughout.

The performance is informative and Spencer’s confident stage manner ensures that the short and sharp piece (50 minutes) is laced with laughs .

Spencer picks a member of the audience to put on his father’s protective army suit that the soldiers frustratingly had to put on multiple times a night and wear. With the chosen audience member on the night taking forever to take their shoes off and adorn the army pants, Spencer remarked “have you got locks on those shoes?”

Situated in The Loft of the Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne the show deserved far more audience members than there were. If you go just remember to undo your laces first.

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