Chunderbelly Adelaide Fringe 2015Matt Byrne Media. Maxim's Wine Bar. 11 Feb 2015


Matt Byrne and Co. once again at Fringe-time take over Maxim's Wine Bar in downtown Norwood for a brand new vaudevillian comedy-variety act. Following a similar format, these shows in the past have taken the mickey of one group or another of otherwise unsung local working class heroes, such as hospital staff or teachers, or people just like us - barrackers, wives-and-girlfriends, or the computer-illiterate dateless.


Byrne himself can't understand the infatuation with the criminal class, and in this clever show he satirises the media for their role in this phenomena as much as the hapless antisocialism of the crims themselves, but it's clear we are viewing TV crims, or is it?


No joke is too obscure, no smutty comment too low, no micro-second gesture too base, to not be in the show. Byrne feels that if he made one person laugh, he made somebody laugh - that's what it's about. It does counter the trend of one hour shows, but the theatre is right in the wine bar for convenience.


What I love about Byrne's Fringe world premieres is that they are always about us - if not as the subject class, at least in our reactions to them. Through reworded karaoke of 70s and 80s tunes, we are introduced to a cavalcade of characters from the Port area - the criminal Moron family, their nemeses - the Gelatoes, a chopper gang, crooked coppers, and the lesbian interlopers of Semaphore. That's a heady mix!


Needless to say, the actors are very busy switching characterisations faster than they can hotwire a car. Brendan Cooney's demonic eyes shine like diamonds whether he's hallucinating dolphin songs or fantasising murder. His lama (or is it alpaca) was one of the best studies of animalisation I have ever seen (yes, I made that word up). Marc Clement possesses deft moves and more comic irony than a crow bar. Matt Byrne (writer, director, and producer) is of the Bob Hope and Red Skelton School - a kind of humour that's love and fun all rolled into one. Kim York, a long-time Byrne-Fringe regular, is a consummate performer and her criminally matriarchal Judy Moron would make Jackie Weaver blush.


‘Chunderbelly’ is what the Fringe is all about - high energy, originality, loads of laughs, audience participation, songs, heaps of funny lines, and a greater understanding of ourselves.


What more could you ask for?


David Grybowski


When: 11 Feb to 15 Mar

Where: Maxim's Wine Bar