Boneshaker is the word for an old type of bicycle, the kind of rattly contraption on which you could imagine Mulga Bill plunging down a mountainside. It was perhaps this kind of wild ride that This Is Siberian Husky had in mind when they took the name for their new show.
From the outset, Boneshaker is frenetic and fast paced. It is sketch comedy with a manic edge. There's only two of them on stage but they perform with the energy of an entire 19th century vaudeville house. With outlandish imagination and outrageous performances, This Is Siberian Husky do not let up for a second.
The duo, Simon Godfrey and Dan Allemann, have been performing Comedy Festival shows under the Husky name since 2010 (Colour In Stereo), and before that appeared on Channel 31 comedy show Barnaby Flowers. They've put on Boneshaker this year with the assistance of a Moosehead Award.
Their performance style is big and brash, with highly exaggerated characters and melodrama-grade emotions. Each sketch takes you into a different absurdist scenario, be that a sadistic government department, an outer space property development, or a home for lost balloons. They are at once highly physical and eloquently verbose, as well as being completely unafraid of taking their material to ridiculous heights or grotesque depths.
At first, the impression is one of total randomness. Sketches jump from one to the next abruptly, regardless of whether a punch line or any other kind of endpoint's been reached. Sometimes, the lack of resolution IS the punch line. As the show progresses, however, Godfrey and Allemann start corralling their flurry of ideas together with call-backs, tie-ins and unexpected story advances on what had seemed throwaway scenes. The chaos resolves itself into persistent themes of social satire. The exuberant absurdity is underpinned by the expression of deep-seated human concerns – fear of the future, personal failure, mortality – making the show a more layered experience than the over-the-top performance style it first implies.
With the rapid scene jumping, which recalls the pace of television editing, and their tendency to pop into chipper British accents, they appear to be taking a few cues from British TV comedy. Certainly there is a Pythonesque flavour to their absurdism. Godfrey and Allemann's style is definitely their own, however, an idiosyncratic blend of whimsy, melodrama and gallows humour. Boneshaker takes you on a journey through some pretty strange places, some of them a little hair-raising, but all of them entertaining. It's a wild ride all right, but worth the plunge.
2012 Moosehead Award recipient presented with the help of The Comedy Channel on FOXTEL
This is Siberian Husky
Venue: Melbourne Town Hall – Lunch Room | Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne
Dates: 29 March – 22 April, 2012
Times: Tue-Sat 7.15pm, Sun 6.15pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $23 - $15
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 | at the door