For the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, MUDCRABS (the Melbourne University Comedy Revue Board) have produced one of their most entertaining shows yet. Kit Goodman! A Good Man, written and directed by Emily White and playing at the University’s Guild Theatre, is a fast-paced, funny and smart take on the traditionally male-dominated detective genre, complete with sex, violence, drag, and PTV.
In the show Tombi Lloyd plays Kit Goodman, Melbourne’s most highly decorated detective, who has to forgo his love of dance to solve one last crime; the murder of his voluptuous co-worker Jana Cobra (Matt Bostock). Along the way, Kit Goodman’s ineptitude is revealed and lampooned as his James Bond-like sexual appetite gets in the way of his work, and he reveals his fear of “powerful women”, like his new PSO sidekick Ronda Redgate (Emma Bampton), who ultimately leads the investigation. This characterisation of Kit Goodman as an inept loser is at the play’s centre, and succeeds in being both funny, and in subverting the traditional male detective genre, making fun of seemingly powerful and virile men whilst elevating their female peers.
Along with Kit and Ronda, we are introduced to a wide array of side characters. Karla Murphy is a highlight as the ethereal elven queen Elfreda. Joe Jackson and Liv Bell also deliver memorable performances as Bangas and Mash, a pair of love-struck PSOs who bond over their passion for ASMR and exchanging “wristies” in the Brunswick station shed. Special attention must be paid too to Matt Bostock, who fully and hilariously commits to his performance of the devilish and oh-so sultry sisters, Jana and Ivana Cobra.
However, despite these side characters giving some good colour and comedy to the production and helping to maintain its fast-pace, they also feel a little out of place. Bangas and Mash particularly seem to have little purpose in the narrative, having almost no relation to Kit Goodman, and could have been better incorporated. Some repeated gags too, such as Kit Goodman’s obsession with bread (highlighted through various puns and metaphors) also seem inconsistent with the rest of the writing, and distract from the show’s smarter moments and satire of the detective genre.
Furthermore, despite the generally high quality of the performances, the leads sometimes lapse their focus, occasionally fudging lines, losing momentum or laughing at inappropriate moments. This leads to the show sometimes taking on an amateur quality. The set and costuming (by AJ McFadden and Liv Bell respectively) have an amateur feel too, although are also somewhat charming. Homemade cardboard doors, Mykis, and PSO vests are reminiscent of a school production, however also serve to enhance the comedy. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see how the production would look with sharper costuming and staging.
It should be noted too that time has been taken for accessibility, with open captioning on a TV screen by Lina Cao. Whilst the captions are at moments slightly distracting, particularly when they fall out of sync with the dialogue, this is still a nice touch that could help many audience members keep up with the show’s quick pace.
Kit Goodman is a smart, action-packed and spirited comedy, teaming with solid performances. Despite suffering from some poorly integrated gags and characters, it ultimately succeeds as a comedy and as a feminist satire of the detective genre.
Kit Goodman! A Good Man by Melbourne University Comedy Revue Board ran at The Guild Theatre in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 9 — 13 April 2019.