Mudcrabs: The Box Set, opened last night for the first of their four night run, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
A lively demonstration of sketch comedy, Mudcrabs’ nine members demonstrated varying levels of commitment to pull off an energetic and rousing performance. With nudity, defiance of heterosexual norms and an array of accents, this eclectic show is guaranteed to present a sketch that will appeal to everyone.
Each performer brought their own attributes to their numerous roles, with Ben Volchok and Matthew Schäffner showing particular finesse in their ability to transform from one character to another. Both were able to successfully embody a range of characters, and utilise a variance of comedic devices in the process. However, the performers themselves began to corpse due to the audiences laughter, causing carefully developed characters to become unrealistic and ultimately detracting from the performance.
It is here that David Mastrantuono stood out as exceptional. Always remaining focused within his scenes, he demonstrated a commitment that consequently strengthened his comedy. His excellent grasp of accents and ability to use them to enhance character is also to be commended, and singled him out as the stand out performer.
The group has clearly developed a strong chemistry, forming a cohesive ensemble that is able to take risks and challenge the boundaries of comedy. The performers’ passion and energy lifted sketches, engaging the audience even during the slower moments. Unfortunately, there were many of these, as timing was often sluggish, causing frequent awkward pauses. This caused a loss of momentum, and often took away from an otherwise highly comedic scene.
However, some jokes that fell flat on their first introduction were revived later in the show to a lively reception. The return of earlier jokes acted as a highly effective device in engaging and delighting the audience. Similarly, jokes centred around the struggles of student life proved most successful, as they were tailored to the audience. It was in these sketches that performers were also able to shine, as they were evidently most confident creating these relatable moments.
Lighting and sound were both carried out excellently, serving only to highlight the performers. Set and props were kept minimalistic and, partnered with theatre blacks, allowed for effective transformation of object and character.
This also allowed for physical comedy, a key component to some sketches. It was these scenes that were often the most effective, as even a gesture served to strengthen the verbal content. Jack McGorlick’s nude detective exemplifies this, and provided a refreshing reprieve from other dialogue heavy scenes.
Ultimately, Mudcrabs present an energetic show that is bound to illicit laughter, whether due to confident and risk taking performers or cleverly presented concepts. A strong ensemble performance that embodies the fun and mistakes that go along with classic sketch comedy.
Mudcrabs’ Mudcrabs: The Box Set runs from March 29 – April 1 at the Guild Theatre, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival