In the intimate venue of Mount Lawley Bowling Club, Craig Hill comes bounding through the room, dancing his way onto the small stage with his kilt bouncing in time with the pounding dance beat. Seizing his microphone, he starts to get to know some of the people in the audience… and never really stops.
Once the seating arrangements are adjusted to Hill’s satisfaction, putting two butch mining blokes in the front row, he discovers a challenge in eliciting responses from them. Hill’s fabulous personality steps in to lift the show from falling into a monosyllabic heap of non-sequiturs, as he remorselessly flirts in an attempt to turn a married man, making gay jokes at the expense of his own camp exuberance.
While the presence of the lads in the front row is a running theme through the show, Hill is equally self-distracted by asking questions of various audience members, and their responses trigger a range of reactions. Hill has the British fascination with accents, as markers of geographical origin, class and intelligence, and is a skilled mimic of intonation, stance and peculiarities in facial expression.
The material flows thick and fast, never really going anywhere in particular, but following Hill’s fleeting, flighty fancies. He mixes stories of family holidays (to Cologne, Germany, with unfortunate Nazi overtones) with tales of glamping with lesbians on a hens do and many many tales of conversations and heckles of earlier performances. Members of the current audience participate, solo or in groups, willingly or otherwise, in his performance, with a particular highlight seeing the entire room learning to sign the phrase “my fanny cries”.
One gag that does not play well is Hill’s recurring use of a facial distortion to imply mental retardation. Putting a dampener on proceedings, the sense of unease at the mockery of intellectual handicap is soon dispelled by the next flagrant double entendre or locally-tailored quip about Armadale, or even a dig at the audience as a group for responding together to questions.
The strength of (this show’s name) lies in Hill’s sweet nature, his hairdresser-like genuine personal interest in making conversation with individuals and his random tangents. As well as this, his sheer physical delight at being the centre of attention is quite winsome, as well as his addiction to making any and everything into the subject of sexual innuendo. A repeat visitor to Australia, he delights in local references and trying on variations of the Australian accent, including analysing the local gay mouth dimensions, but is most at ease when trashing Wales or specific parts of Scotland. As a result, not all of his material is immediately accessible to local audiences, but the gist is there and enough expats and returned travellers laugh loudly at the right times to keep the atmosphere lively.
A light-hearted night out, not for the prudish or self-important but a celebration of the quirks and queerness of humanity, Hill is a welcome part of the international contingent for this year’s Perth Comedy Festival.
Century Entertainment presents
Give Him an Inch…
Venue: Mount Lawley Bowling Club, Mount Lawley
Dates: 30 April – 3 May 2015
Tickets: $29.90 – $34.90
Part of the 2015 Perth Comedy Festival