Twonkey’s Christmas in the Jungle

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Dragonfly, West Port
Aug 12-14, 16-27 (19.20)

Material: three-stars.png  Delivery: five-stars.png  Laughs: four-stars.png

If you like the feeling of tripping off your t**s but are too tight-fisted to actually buy any drugs then this is the show for you. Paul Vickers (a.k.a. Mr Twonkey) gives us a bizarre, meandering, Wonderland-esque blend of pure madness which will make you feel like you just dropped a shedload of topnotch ‘shrooms and washed them down with a pint of moonshine. His show consists of a (very, very, VERY loose) narrative about the quest of Mr Twonkey, who is looking for the Chicken Church deep in the heart of the jungle. Yes, you heard me. To visualise Mr T think of The Little Prince all grown up and living under a bridge in The Magic Roundabout…and I get the strong feeling Paul Vickers genuinely believes himself to be Mr Twonkey. This year sees the tenth Twonkey show, & we are presented with a new character. In a recent interview with The Mumble, he is introduced as;

Mr. Pines is a new character that I play, he’s my manager but he wants to kill me. I wear a fake nose and sunglasses and people boo me, he’s like a pantomime villain. He’s the one that’s sent me to the Jungle, he’s hoping I get lost and never come back. He has other acts that are more commercially viable so he wants me off the books and out of his hair for good.

The ‘story’ is interspersed with voiceovers, barmy tunes, some well orchestrated interaction with the audience (unlike some comedians, nothing too personal or vicious- he keeps it feelgood throughout) and a collection of puppets which appear to have been made by a gang of disturbed 5 year olds. The entire premise should mimic Twonkey’s props and fall apart after 5 minutes yet somehow this show bumbles along nicely and exudes a strange charm and humanity, consistently eliciting baffled laughter throughout and feelings of warmth and pity for Mr T…there is something just so disshevelled and likeable about him, he looks like someone who once had a career as a professional hobo but has managed to climb maybe halfway up one rung on the social ladder…you just desperately want him to do well, find his Chicken Church and complete his mission (whatever the hell that may be- we are still wondering).

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For what it is Le Twonk’s show is a tad too long, and I suspect that, as is often the case, there may be a direct correlation between the mood of the audience and the calibre of the show but it’s not a fatal flaw, merely one that after 30 minutes has you briefly wondering what to see next and what to have for tea tomorrow but you can easily forgive this- as I said you are rooting for him the whole way through so this brief lull is a small price to pay for an otherwise engaging, unusual and bizarre 45 minutes.

The show starts off with a different character who narrates but it would also would benefit greatly from a radical change in direction halfway through, say 3 acts, with the middle act being completely different and perhaps involving some audience members being dragged up and lightly humiliated for the benefit of everyone else but overall it is a decent testament to the spirit of random weirdness and creativity that is characteristic of the Fringe Festival and makes for a refreshing antidote to the ever increasing number of super-produced commercial comedians out there.

Reviewer : Maya Moreno

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