The Med Review just wrapped up their 2016 production, Captain Australia: Emu War, a two and a half hour show of sketch comedy and music, written and performed by the cast.
The introductory skit was lacklustre, with all the actors front of stage, deliberating on how to diversify the cast, with a series of jokes that just didn’t seem to land. Ultimately the punch line was that they picked the whitest, most male candidates. This wasn’t offensive, but neither was it funny, because it wasn’t saying anything about the question of diversity. My expectations at this point were low, but were to be pleasantly challenged as the evening progressed.
The production picked up rapidly with a series of refreshingly bawdy and cheeky skits. There was the jaded and sarcastic Steve the safari guide, played by Dan Saitta. The new-wife/old-wife skit where Tim Wiles as the old-wife took up the first of many of his memorably outlandish characters, and cackled rhyming couplets of bizarre advice to his not-daughter. Producer Tess Chee was equally hilarious in that skit as the mother and ‘new-wife’, flustered and fed up with her husband’s ex-wife invading their home. Assistant Director, Brit Green, really showed off her singing talents, leading a musical number that took the song ‘Under the Sea’ (and I do mean Little Mermaid) and turned it into a song about a girl desperately wanting to renounce veganism for some meat and dairy.
More notable skits included Tim Wiles, again, and Alex Nathan playing two television broadcasters trying to sell us Disney on Ice (read: methamphetamines). Later, Shubham Joshi stole the moment as the dog Mr. Waffles, who yearns after the affections of his owner, Valentina, played by Adi Kaufman. The main, extended performance of the evening was a whodunit set in ‘The Manor Bar’, and no description of mine will really encapsulate what this skit was about. Suffice to say that Tim Wiles played a cartoonish detective trying to solve a mystery, with the aid of two dubiously roped-in stripper cops (Emma Dodgson & Dan Hanna, you both had me in stitches).
I want to take a second here to highlight that it was when the skit material wasn’t too heavily or obviously political that the skits themselves really shone. As I mentioned before, the tying in of diversity politics didn’t aid the show much. This was again evident in a short, projected video-segment where the military dynamics between countries (namely North Korea, US, Russia, Kuwait and Iraq) were allegorised in their interactions with one another in an Olympic gym. I found the sketch to be a little bit cringe-worthy, with its irreverent humour about the gassings in Kuwait and the emaciation of North Korea. Moving on from this criticism however, I reiterate that the general strength of the production lay in the less political material, and excelled when bawdier, cheekier, and wittier.
The night was just a great deal of fun, and it was clear that that was all that it was aiming to achieve. I came away really pleased, not because I’d been entertained for two and a half hours, but because I had just seen a group of students collaborate and support each other in taking comedic risks, a large deal of which really paid off.
Medley’s Captain Australia: Emu War ran from August 25th – 27th in Union House Theatre.