Melbourne Fringe 2016

COSMONAUT, Melbourne Fringe 2016

0 Comments 20 September 2016

Words by Eliza Janssen

Don’t be deceived into thinking Cosmonaut is simply a one-man show. As soon as the house lights dim, writer and performer Ryan Good ropes some poor rube in the front row into a series of increasingly intimate acts inspired by the questionable romantic advice of women’s magazine Cosmopolitan. For privacy’s sake, let’s call the audience member Ricardo. Together, Good and the unwitting Ricardo left no icky facet of the romantic experience unexplored.

There’s a ramshackle appeal to the show’s production, with the ten ‘worst Cosmo sex tips of all time’ acted out with bananas, lipstick, doughnuts, and dildos. Is the plural dildos? Or dildoes, like potatoes? In any case, the same shaggy charm extends to Good, a horny court jester who rejects any theatrical distance between performer and audience. By the end of the hour there’s seemingly nothing Good can’t convince his audience to do.

This is best exemplified in his re-enactment of a psychedelic dream he had after trying out Tip #4 (‘Sprinkle a little pepper under his nose right before climax; sneezing can feel similar to an orgasm!’). Through verbose and explicit monologue, he rages against the machine of insidious sexism that he sees at work in Cosmopolitan. It’s an impassioned sequence which is then gleefully punctuated by the audience scrunching up single pages of the guilty magazines and tossing them at a projected image of Burt Reynolds.

Moments of audience participation like this are unexpectedly comfortable and conversational. But some ruptures of the fourth wall could afford to seem less scripted. Cosmonauthas been performed before at other Fringe festivals, so it must be difficult to make the show’s many quick ad-libs feel spontaneous, and most audience members will be able to see the seams in Good’s frazzled practiced observations and improv.

Halfway through the show, Ricardo is asked to break Good’s heart. Ricardo’s hand hovers uncertainly over Good’s left breast for a while, until he is corrected; ‘No, not that one.’ Good is referring to the red heart-shaped balloon taped to his groin. Vulgarity like this gets a laugh, but it’s also stirring, as it’s clear that the breaking of this heart is really going to hurt.

In the vein of TV shows like Broad City and comics like Sex Criminals, Cosmonaut is so obsessed with sex that it loops back around into something quite wholesome and sweet. Its title, and Good’s tight-fitting silver space suit costume, are representative of Cosmonaut’s genuine love for, well, physical love; a curious, sincere exploration of human connection in which audience members are encouraged to throw plastic rings onto their cosmic guide’s purple strap-on.

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