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Asher Treleaven: Matador

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

After a couple of years performing as a vodka-swilling, pill-popping, gas-inhaling lunatic on the verge a sociopathic spree, Asher Treleaven has clamed himself down, turned teetotal vegetarian, and prepared us a nice storytelling show.

Sure, he takes to the stage in matador outfit and cod Spanish accent, cheering ‘olé!’ and camply strutting around like a Russell Brand tribute act. But eventually he kicks back and eases himself into a ‘vaguely Spanish themed postmodern show about racism’.

It was, he said, sparked by his own inability to cope with the perpetual instances of casual prejudice he witnessed from cab drivers, bumper stickers, cobblers and gorgeous young women tottering along Swanston Street who suddenly reveal their inner ugliness in one vile outburst. These incidents are recounted with a fine sense of social awkwardness as he is paralysed by his fear of confrontation, despite feeling revulsed.

Treleaven’s not above a bit of stereotyping himself, mind, and the song and dance he makes about beer-swigging bogans in their singlets is a bit of a cheap shot that threatens to brand a huge demographic swathe as racist. As if wearing a suit and clocking into an office immediately makes you open-minded. Still, Treleaven came from such stock himself, so speaks with some understanding, and fills us in on his background as he establishes his credentials as a teller of tales.

The meat of his show comprises an extended travel tale about getting lost on a tiny Thai island while still wearing his Speedos, and another shaggy yarn about wrestling a psychotic sheep. The link to the stated racism theme is tenuous, of that he’s well aware, but Mr T proves himself an engaging, witty raconteur, with an evocative turn of phrase and a well-judged physicality in acting out the scenarios.

In the light of such an enjoyable sharing of his personal experiences, Treleaven’s shock-tactic payoff, briefly returning to his ballsy matador persona, seems gratuitous – although it is sure to be a talking point for his audiences. There is the sense that without the gimmick, the hour wouldn’t have a killer moment to make its mark – but nonetheless it’s a jaunty, humorous ride. Olé!

Review date: 11 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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