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Smart Casual: Broken Dreams

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Smart Casual offer a mixed bag both in styles – song, sketches, badinage and videos – and in quality.

Near the beginning, when all they’d done was a gratuitously awful strip-tease, a one-joke song about parents giving their kids stupid names, plus an uncomfortable, low-key film in which they spoke about why they thought they’d exhausted their career in Australia and would have to move to Poland, it seemed this would be a very long hour.

But as they put more and more clothes back on, their talents become more apparent. They have a nicely wry sense of humour, an easy command of the classic double-act banter, some clear musical skill and – especially from Fletcher Jones, the larger, bearded half of the duo – a funny physicality that manifests itself in some deliciously bad moves.

Even the Poland storyline, an occasionally recurring thread which seemed to be offering nothing but footage that should probably have been consigned to YouTube, finally paid of with an absolutely brilliant piece of faux-dated video of a bizarre musical number they’ll all be singing on the streets of Warsaw.

A couple of other strands couldn’t pull off such a turnaround, especially the hackneyed parody of the trendy vicar who knows this ‘pretty cool guy’ called Jesus.

Equally, some of the musical numbers – usually performed in a lulling sotto voce to Roger David’s gentle guitar strumming – were only mildly amusing, but when they kept them short enough to get the joke but not milk it, the comedy shone. And talking of milk, the ads for their sponsor, the sugary milk Shmilk, produced some hilariously unpleasant imagery.

Other musical highlights include Obsessive/Compulsive, their casino number, and an improvised section based on a coupe of hapless audience members, which showcased the duo’s droll sensibilities to good advantage. Outside of the music, they childishly mess about with art appreciation, while the PowerPoint is again used for one particular visual ‘one-framer’ suggesting a pop culture mash-up we’d all like to see.

Although a fully consistent hour is still beyond them, Smart Casual have all the elements of a fine musical duo, with distinctively laid-back personas. We can be thankful the Polish adventure didn’t quite work out as they hoped.

Review date: 21 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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