I have it on good authority (from my very knowledgeable plus one for this show) that almost anyone, given a strong enough constitution, enough time and the (unfathomable) inclination, could replicate the stunts in The Dark Party presented by The Dirty Brothers Sideshow as part of the Brisbane Festival.
But just because we could, it doesn’t mean most of us would be brave or foolhardy enough to tuck into a plate of live maggots, dance across a maze of mousetraps or try and lift a car battery with our nipples.
And, in the end, it really doesn’t matter that the stunts in this 60 minute sketch show aren’t all that death-defying. As with any good theatre show, it’s all about the delivery. And the delivery is utterly wonderful.
The three players, named in the program only as DiRtY Shep, DiRtY Pat and DiRtY Gordo, look like a cross between Pagliacci and well-coiffed hobos. They’re completely silent, surly, dirty and absolutely adorable. Yes, that’s right. They eat maggots and they are adorable.
Their clownish faces brim with tragi-comic (and comi-tragic) expression. Every frown or smile is played to the hilt to get the most laughs or reaction, and their frenetic onstage energy in infectious and invigorating. It’s like watching huge, tattooed toddlers play with very dangerous things.
And, along with all the eating of the inedible and piercing of the never-should-be-pierced, there are some very, very clever moments in The Dark Party, moments that make you spontaneously clap your hands and laugh out loud in recognition of a pop-cultural reference or a childhood memory.
I won’t give too much away, because the element of surprise adds to the enjoyment, but my particular favourites were the Hula sketch (where wearing a lei is both compulsory and painful) and the Mousetrap Dance (make sure to grab as many ping pong balls as you can at the beginning of the show. You’ll be glad you did).
It’s obviously a carefully planned and executed piece of theatre (you don’t swallow swords without knowing exactly what you're doing), but the style of these players mean that it has an unpolished, shambolic feeling that makes it so much fun to watch.
If you are delicate of stomach, I wouldn’t recommend The Dark Party. But if you like the idea of seeing grown men do ridiculous things to themselves in the most delightful of ways, then go along and be charmed by The Dirty Brothers Sideshow.
Brisbane Festival 2010 presents
The Dark Party
The Dirty Brothers Sideshow
Venue: QUT Festival Theatre, Plaza, Brisbane Powerhouse | 119 Lamington Street New Farm
Dates: Tuesday, 21 September - Saturday, 25 September, 2010
Duration: 60 mins (no interval)
Tickets: Adult $35, Concession $25, Groups $25 (includes all fees and charges)
Bookings: Brisbane Powerhouse Box Office – 07 3358 8600