The Australian outback, a French sheep and a lonely convict on the run. It may sound like all the ingredients for a very dubious sort of production, but throw in some Spanish guitar pop song covers, plenty of dressing (and undressing) and a healthy dash of clowning and you have the fantastically silly creation that is Plague of Idiots’
Waltzing Matilda serves its purpose as a thoroughly sublime hour of entertainment
Onstage personas Gary (Damien Warren-Smith) and Lulu (Laurent Mallet) meet in various disguises at a mysterious location across the evening; as costumes get steadily more and more outlandish, the action escalates to match. I defy you not to catch yourself staring at Warren-Smith’s white short shorts at least once, whilst Mallet’s turn as one of the local wildlife was nothing short of outrageous, fluffy accessories and all. This is all done in pantomime humour, with only the barest hint of a twinkle in the eye for those who can spot it.
As a duo, Warren-Smith and Mallet are clearly reading from same page notes, riffing off each other constantly throughout the set. Using a bare stage and very few props, the improvisation when one of these props proved faulty was extremely enjoyable and served to highlight how well the pair gel together as a team.
The plot, of sorts, has little to no importance here; it’s more a series of excuses to explore weird and wonderful combinations of characters, putting Mallet’s bizarre creations against the straight man of Warren-Smith’s Australian caricature. Each short musical parody serves as an interlude between these characters, and has been chosen for usually pun-related reasons. Singing along is definitely encouraged, and somehow the whole thing comes together as more of a variety show than a piece of theatre.
The obvious drawback of this fairly freeform structure is that, after so many unpredictable twists and turns, the ending when it comes feel somewhat of an anticlimax. Nonetheless, Waltzing Matilda serves its purpose as a thoroughly sublime hour of entertainment, providing that you are willing to leave sensibilities at the door and be just as silly as the performers onstage in front of you.