Melbourne Fringe 2012

Choose Your Own Portenza

0 Comments 01 October 2012

Dr Professor Neal Portenza invites you to be a guest at his birthday party where you control what happens next in this novel style of interactive comedy, inspired by the classic Choose Your Own Adventure novels. Each audience member is endowed with a party hat, Walkman and a remote control which allows you to vote in preference of particular plot details such as which “celebrity” guests will also make an appearance at his party.

The strength of this show is in its pure comedic absurdity. From the first moment Dr Professor Neal Portenza arrives on stage in the eclectic ensemble of surgical scrubs, a red beret and make-up resembling a drag queen, the audience is given the sense that this is not your typical sketch comedy show. What the show lacks in structure or coherent narrative – or even a script (as Portenza admits himself) – it makes for in spontaneous creativity. A talented improviser, Portenza swiftly adapts the show to suit the audience’s preferences.  ­

With frequent bordering on obsessive references to Sale of the Century host Glenn Ridge, an array of ridiculous props and a cast of equally strange characters all played by Portenza, the audience are left in a perpetual state of flux about what will happen next. It this heightened anticipation which drives the show.

This show is not for the faint-hearted or introverted as it does involve a high level of audience interaction and participation in a rather small space. Portenza does not confine himself to the stage and wanders and dances about the crowd humorously assaulting and insulting audience members without mercy. But it is also this element which ensures no two performances are ever the same.

Comedian Joshua Ladgrove has crafted a charismatic character in bizarre man-child Dr Professor Neal Portenza which he commits to one hundred per cent. While Portenza’s unique brand of absurdist humour may not be to everyone’s taste, it provides many side-splittingly funny moments for those with an open mind.

Choose Your Own Portenza runs until 4 October at the Tuxedo Cat. Tickets are $20 full-price and $18 concession (group tickets are $15 per person for 4 people and Tuesday sessions are also $15).

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