Melbourne Fringe 2012

The Warmth we Make with our Lives

0 Comments 26 September 2012

Nestled in a covert space above the Order of Melbourne sits comedian Bart Freebairn’s makeshift pillow fort. Once you get down to your hands and knees and crawl through the initial entryway, you are greeted with Winnie-the-Pooh bedspreads that clothe the walls, smoothed doonas that line the floor and lumpy pillows that prop up the fortress – although the latter also occasionally act as a buffer for one’s rear end.

As is soon discovered, the pillow fort is a throwback to the cubby houses that were such an integral part of Bart’s childhood. This forms an overarching theme of The Warmth we Make with our Lives as Bart mines his personal experiences to present an endearing and occasionally touching show riddled with funny anecdotes, spontaneous re-enactments and the subtle message that life is but what you make it to be.

With an affable demeanour and conversational style, Bart delves into life’s great mysteries (can we only dream of things we have actually experienced?) and ponders upon happenings that have shaped him up to this point with a candour and air of nonchalance usually reserved for a deep and meaningful session with a close friend.

Nothing is sacrosanct as Bart talks about the first time he used the word ‘fuck’, his infantile impression of what sex entailed, his opinion on drugs and porn, his poverty-ridden days of eating beans out of a can and his penchant for internet dating which was ‘just for kicks, but more so because he felt lonely’.

At times, Bart breaks from his laid-back disposition to impersonate himself in exaggerated falsetto tones. Hilarity ensues – especially when Bart plays out a conversation between himself and an imagined other on an internet dating website. Yet the show is not without its touching moments, mostly aptly demonstrated when Bart narrates a story about a particular unfortunate habit of his late grandma.

Bart somehow successfully steers clear from sounding vulgar or coming across as preachy, despite talking about things such as anal sex on a jet ski (which for the record, Bart did not do) or the ways in which porn denigrates women. And despite narrating a show that is wholly derived from his own experiences, Bart’s show never borders on self-indulgence as he frequently considers the audience with questions that draw them into his experiences.

Charming and forthright with a disarming smile, Bart spends the show deconstructing the traditional barrier that exists between performer and audience members in typical stand-up routines – and therein lies the show’s strength. As comedians are propelled to dizzying heights of fame and accorded prized television appearances, Bart expresses a desire to keep things ‘small and rad’ in his pillow fort. As Bart says, he wouldn’t know what to do on television anyway.

While The Warmth we Make with our Lives may not be a traditional stand-up routine, it’s a cosy, intimate and compelling show that feels like you’re sitting around a campfire listening to a funny friend. Exactly how Bart would have wanted it.

The Wartmh we Make with our Lives runs until 13 October at the Order of Melbourne Green Room. Tickets are $15.

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