MICF - Phil Nichol & Janice Phayre: Freedumb
Successful parody relies on the object that is being parodied being well-known. In other words, you need to understand what the ‘straight’ is before you can recognise (and laugh at it) being ‘twisted’. That’s where the fundamental flaw in Freedumb lies. Freedumb is a parody of a peace-loving activist DIY TV show. Got that? Nope, neither has anyone else. So with that as the starting point, the two performers delve into loosely-linked sketches gently mocking the activist mentality. Whilst there are still laughs to be had, it’s hard to fully engage with it. The cast of two, Phil Nichol and Janice Phayre, are clearly talented performers who sing, dance, act and puppeteer their way through the material. Nichol is particular is not new to Melbourne audiences, who might remember him as a member of Canadian musical trio Corky and the Juicepigs. Nichol is a natural improviser, and seems constrained by the need for a script. On several occasions, he breaks out of character, and despite being theatrically undisciplined, it produces some of the funniest moments. Most of the jokes that really hit the spot tend to be the crasser and cruder ones. No problem with that, although you sense that the political message of the show – which is supposed to set it apart from other shows – is largely lost.