Apr 13

Sir Robert’s History of Horror: A Review


Bob Franklin has long been interested in the comic ground shared by comedy and horror.


Last year his obsidian-black Yours Sincerely was a bleakly funny (and much talked about) portrayal of obsession; this year’s potted horror history is, by contrast, a barrel of laughs.


Franklin plays his occasional alter ego Sir Robert, a pipe-smoking, cravat-wearing horror buff ostensibly on hand to give a lecture.


However this conceit is entwined in a narrative back story that unspools like one of Franklin’s unnerving short stories.


James Hazelden’s cello provides suitably spooky atmospherics, while Franklin’s punchlines are not so different to jump scares, underlining the sibling closeness of the funny and the frightening.


Michael Ward  – The Herald-Sun

Original article HERE

Apr 13

Dénouement!: A Review


James Hazelden’s Dénouement! entertainingly and wittily subverts the genre of ‘whodunnit’. The tight fifty-minute theatre piece begins just after the murder (hence its title), using the necessary props – an English drawing room, a missing will, an amateur detective, and, of course, a bloody knife, only to turn expectations upside down. The play completely breaks through the traditional values of the genre as it is hilariously self-aware and calls attention to its own plot-holes, and as such has the audience laughing from the opening lines.


The whodunnit genre often has the tendency to take itself too seriously, which Dénouement! plays on by refreshingly charging through the ‘stiffness’ and upper-class ideals usually depicted in the genre. For instance, the wife of the man who is murdered (played by Emily Rowe) screeches “Oh the scandal” at the thought of her husband’s case being opened for further investigation rather than simply blaming the housemaid (even though there is no proof) “because she is poor”.


The cast of six deliver highly entertaining performances. Chris Saxton hilariously pulls off the ‘idiot son’; Kathryn Tohill brings great energy and wit to her role as the wife; Mark Woodward brings mystery to the lawyer; while the two detectives played by Chris Tomkins and Kimberley Duband deliver great comedic timing and bring vigour to their roles. Perhaps the cast’s only drawback was that they occasionally didn’t wait for the audience to finish laughing.


The set has everything you need for a whodunnit English drawing room – grand couches (to hide behind), and a side table with gin and vermouth, martini glasses, and a cocktail shaker (perfect for adding poison to).


Dénouement! is beautifully directed by James Hazelden and written by Hazelden and Nicholas Rasche. Hazelden and Rasche take the audience on a surreal journey that only builds in ludicrousness. The script is witty and fresh, keeping the audience guessing and trying to understand the absurdities that take place – only to be surprised.


I would definitely recommend attending Dénouement!, it’s a great performance!


Lucinda Naughton – Theatre Travels

Original article HERE

Apr 13

Dénouement!: Review


Dénouement!: Cluedo on the Stage


La Mama joins the ranks of the Melbourne Comedy Festival and produces a deliciously satisfying who-dunnit with all the hallmarks of a great production.


The stately faux-English lounge room sets the stage as a lone man in a finely pressed suit speaks into a Dictaphone. Dénouement begins with the investigation of a brutal murder and the audience are immediately hooked. Which of these fine characters has committed the deed; the husband, the wife, the mother? Or could it be the private eye, and is anyone really who they say they are? It draws on the tropes of the Agatha Christie Murder Mysteries or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes with much finger pointing, class division and an active reduction of any possible ‘scandal’.


The cast are clearly loving their respective roles and provided a tight performance that still felt natural and easy. Particular mention goes to Kathryn Tohill who plays Vera, the wife, bored of her bumbling husband John, she seems to have with wandering eyes for a particular butler. She brings sass and a delivers humorous lines with an almost gratingly dry edge. She holds herself with incredible poise and really carries the plot development.  Her husband John, superbly played by Chris Saxton, is the heir of money and status but seemingly not the heir of any brains. His misdirected self-confidence and thick as a brick rhetoric is sure to get a chuckle out of any audience.


The play is self-reflective, and I assume that the writers and producers, James Hazelden & Nicholas Rasche were aware of how classic this narrative was. With all the embellishments of a missing will, a suspicious murder and a confident private investigator, it begins to feel like a game of Cluedo in the English Countryside. However this well-worn plot is made interesting by the use of Meta jokes and cheeky references to the supreme obviousness of it all. This in itself makes the play all the more satiating.


Satisfyingly the name of the play itself explains how the plot unfolds. For the non-Francophones out there, Dénouement translates to the moment of a play where all the loose ends are tied up and the narrative reaches climax. So hold out for the end when all is revealed and the audience smiles collectively out of sheer gratification.


Honestly, which its smooth plot trajectory, engaging characters and dashes of black comedy and grandiloquence worthy of the context, it is hard not to find this play enjoyable. Against the overwhelming backdrop of skit based comedy that is the Melbourne Comedy Festival, this is a steady, plot centric play with enough dry humour and satisfying twists to guarantee you a good chuckle.


Julia Frecker – The Dialog

Original article HERE

Apr 08

Denouement!: Review


“A sublimely silly and frenetically farcical comedy whodunnit. A stately English home, an amateur detective, a missing will, a bloody knive Everyone is a suspect. Anyone could be the next victim Nothing is what it seems”.


Thus the program for DENOUEMENT! at the Carlton Courthouse and none of it false advertising! It’s a very, very funny satirical hard but hysterical take on the genre of stately-home-mystery-thrillers with perhaps a nod to Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound a wonderfully infamous piss-take of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap ; her definite work of the genre ; still running in London after 67 years.


Directed by James Hazelden, DENOUEMENT! has just the right characters and the cast to clothe and illuminate them, Lady Sadie ; matriarch , Emily Rowe , her witless son and playwright manque ; splinter off the old family escutcheon-dad was a country squire and successful mystery playwright but John; Chris Saxton; is as dim as a 1 volt light globe! At one point he ascribes the noise emanating from the butler’s bed room, to his wife Vera’s and young Jeeves’ struggles to re:arrange the furniture and their simultaneous ascending cries of “yes, yes, Yes! ” as triumphant confirmation of their success .


His wife Vera is played in arousal red by Kathryn Tohill like a well chilled martini, dry sophistication from her elegant hair to her red high heels . Throw into the dysfunctional family mix, Thomas, Mark Woodward, failed barrister but faithful family solicitor who is besotted with Lady Sadie, add Humbleby crack amateur detective from Chris Tomkins and finally Kimberley Duband as police detective and you have , as I did, 50 minutes of great fun and complete lack of respect for the genre that survives mostly on T V e.g. Midsomer Murders.


- Peter Green The Melbourne Observer

Original article HERE

Apr 07

Comedian Q&A: James Hazelden, Denouement



What can people expect from your show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival?

Denouement is a good old-fashioned comedy/mystery play — a sublimely silly and frenetically farcical whodunit.

A stately English home, an amateur detective, a missing will, a bloody knife.

Everyone is a suspect.

Anyone could be the next victim.

Nothing is what it seems.

A traditional thriller that descends into a surreal and subversive celebration of the genre complete with surprise twists, suspicious characters and sparkling black comedy.

What have you been up to since the last time you were here?

Denouement comes to you from the writers of the Mystery Radio Theatre live radio plays, and features cast members from the Theatre of the Worldpodcasts and the TBC Theatre Company. Mystery Radio Theatre was called ‘One of the standout acts from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’ by Theatre People reviews.


Who should see your show, and why?

Anyone who is a fan of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple, Midsomer MurdersCSI or any crime mysteries will enjoy this comedy that pokes fun at the classic whodunit and amateur detective thrillers

And while the show is fast and funny, there is a real mystery to solve behind all the black comedy and chaos.


What’s your No.1 tip for people coming to see a show at the comedy festival?

The festival isn’t just all stand-up shows.

There are also theatre shows (like ours!), improvised shows, sketch, character and music shows.

Try to see different types of comedy — that’s the best part of the festival.


Which other comedians/shows are you keen to see at this year’s festival, and why?

Sir Robert’s History of Horror is a very funny character show for fans of old-fashioned horror movies.

Judith Lucy, Damien Power and Kitty Flanagan are hilarious standups.

And there is a lovely version of The Importance of Being Earnest being staged at Chapel off Chapel.


What do you love about Melbourne?

The cast and crew of Denouement are all Melbourne natives and we love the artistic energy of this city.

There is always so much comedy, music and theatre to see at all times of the year, and Melbourne places a real value on its arts’ community.

It’s always very gratifying to be a part of this, and have the opportunity to write and perform in such a lively and electric place.


Who or what is your comedic inspiration, and why?

We’re big fans of classic British comedy such as The Goons, Monty Python, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, and Noel Coward.

We love the surreal elegance of their writing and performing, and their delightful timing and cleverness.

We also like homegrown comedians such as The Aunty Jack Show, The D-Generation, John Clarke & Brian Dawe, Shaun Micallef and Tony Martin.


- Herald-Sun

Original article HERE

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