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Show type: Melbourne 2012
Lawrence Mooney: Lawrence Of Suburbia
The Winner of Melbourne Fringe Best Comedy Award 2011 is back with a night of hilarious Sub-urbanity.
Lawrence of Suburbia is a metaphorical camel ride through the spiritual tundra of the suburbs. 'What the hell's going on out there?'
Lawrence Mooney: Lawrence Of Suburbia
It’s fashionable to criticise comics who rely on nostalgia for laughs. And rightly so, as mentioning an old brand name or widely shared experience too often a cheap, lazy way of building a connection with an audience by tapping into their fondest memories.
But Lawrence Mooney might just prove the exception to that, with this celebration of the life in the ‘fecund, fenced oasis’ of suburbia. Sure, he makes evocative, sentimental mention of cheap sweets, fish and chip shop treats – even white dog shit – that are universally identifiable to those over a certain age, but he does it masterfully.
He seamless mixes the generic with the personal, as he recalls his young life in the outer Melbourne suburb of Bayswater, especially the hard-drinking, hard-fighting men with real handyman jobs who held him in thrall, and terror.
This is all regaled through sincere, skilful storytelling and a masterful control of the audience and their reaction. Mooney cracks quite a pace, ensuring the gags come tightly packed, while he’s quite the character actor, too, bringing all his neighbours to life. He even does a brilliant version of himself as a kid, screwing his face up as he tries his first ever pickled onion, which feeds into the engagingly self-effacing approach of the whole story.
There’s a ‘circle of life’ arc to his tale that, again, many will identify with. As a young man, he rebelliously turned his back on suburbia to become an inner-city hipster, studying drama, smoking dope, dressing like a fop, signing on and pontificating about art-house movies he never truly understood. Yet now, in his late 40s, he finds himself returning like a human salmon to the suburbs, reigniting a love-hate relationship with that settled lifestyle.
Although there doesn’t seem all that much to that journey, Mooney is cheery, honest and funny throughout, whether he be telling us about reunion with his playground sweetheart or the break-up of his first relationship. More general observational routines include describing the health hazards of burning toxic household waste in the back garden, looking at how different people cry – again brought to life by fine performance – and a routine about drink-driving that could be seen to condone it, what with him giving tips on how it could be done and all. But it adds a bit of edge to the rose-tinted nostalgia.
It’s all well-constructed, with something for everyone. Even the title, too, is no cheap pun… well it is, but he also makes it a running part of the show, from riding in on a leaf-blower, to Lawrence of Arabia-style soliloquies to break up the chapters.
There are some gags here that have been done before – even the big closer about the ‘god old days’ songs his generation will listen to in their retirement homes is rather hackneyed – but Mooney’s engaging enough to get away with it.
Given the importance of fencing in suburbia, it’s no surprise that Mooney is breaking no barriers with his stand-up – but it’s strong stuff, expertly delivered to ensure a night full of warm laughs and infectious good humour that should appeal to all.
|Date of live review: Friday 13th Apr, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
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