Tunks For The MemoriesMy enthusiasm for Mr T (Wayne Tunks) will be no secret to anyone who's heard or read me waxing lyrically about his children before. By his children, of course, I refer to his prolific output of plays; if that's an adequate description. One day, all things being equal and just, Tunksy will be as ubiquitous as Williamson

Meantime, it's well-worth keeping one's eyes peeled for a Tunks production. 

The latest, which goes by the incorrigibly and, dare I say, characteristically corny title, Tunks For The Memories, employs his class-clown bro', Gary (a Gazza, if ever there was one), and a distinguished cast, in a loosely & courageously autobiographical pastiche of stand-up, impro, skits, 'shorts', production numbers and whatnot.

This isn't to be disparaging: a wholly refreshing aspect of Wayne T's output is his disarming, self-deprecating, firmly tongue-in-cheek writing. Indeed, it's these very qualities which make him and his work so engaging, affecting, empathic and accessible.

Lithe and versatile medico & actor (Dr.) Renee Lim & 'The Dirty Ho' Dancers set the gutter-low tone for the evening; and loving it(!), with a series of imaginatively, hilariously and, above all, sleazily choreographed routines to music we all know and, well, loathe. Again, in a good way!

Nicole da Silva is a consummate treat, too, as Paris in Hell, the Tunksmeister's celebrated ('reprised-by-popular-demand') contribution (or one of 'em) to the last season of Short 'n' Sweet. Suffice to say, da Silva fully exploits every nuance of bimbodom, playing her character to the, well, Hilton. Intellectual stablemate, the hapless, hairless Britney Spears, with WT in drag, also cops a right royal rehab roasting.

He also reprises his almost chokingly funny turn as 'Commander' Vanstone, a multiply Mars-barred parliamentary sex goddess. 'Her' striptease his fittingly repulsive.

(I was uplifted to note, beneath the veneer of good-natured, nostalgic, affectionately humourous suburban family album vignettes lies an acute, stinging anti-conservative political agenda.)

However, if pressed to pick a fave sketch, it's be hard to surpass the affecting caricature of Glen, the freshly-fired bingo caller, telling all, and like it is, while fortified with 'courage bitter': yet another example of Tunks' prodigious potency in portraying, poignantly, and unlike this sentence, without undue alliteration, a comically, but tragically real & recognisable character.

Tunks never denies or belittles his Blacktown-born-and-bred roots: he wears such, proudly, defiantly, right next to his heart, on his sleeve, as well he should; a bloodyminded badge of honour, rising against the overwhelming tide of vacuous pretension that has, unfortunately, come to characterise, to a considerable degree, this otherwise blessed, but also cursed, metropolis.

Nor is he reticent about his sexuality: as well as mainstream hitpicks such as The Subtle Art Of Flirting, The Bridesmaid Must Die, We’ll Always Have Wagga and Birthdays, Christmas & Other Family Disasters, he has authored 'gayplay' Go West and has one in store, for Mardi Gras, called Silver Top Ash. 

On the strength of this latest outing, which, while by no means seamless, exhibits, thereby, an utterly compelling, wholly admirable absence of artifice, I, for one, am champing at the bit to sample and, no doubt, savour his next: Hell Hath No Fury, to be staged with a phenomenal cast, of 16 women, come June, at Newtown Theatre.

Wayne Tunks: inimitable; indomitable; incorrigible; irrepressible; critically-acclaimed; award-winning. 

But, above all, lovable. Long may he reign!

(Incidentally, don't miss him in Noir, at PACT)

Tunks Productions and Big Laugh Comedy Festival present
Tunks for the Memories - The Tunks Brothers' Variety Hour
Written, Directed and Starring Wayne Tunks

Venue: Riverside Theatres | Cnr Church & Market Sts, Parramatta
Dates: 28 - 31 March
Tickets: $27.90/$22.90
Bookings: (02) 8839 3399 or www.riversideparramatta.com.au

Most read Sydney reviews

Hotter than Hamilton, cooler than Come From Away, Merrily We Roll Along is the just the ticket...