Suitcase Royale Space Show

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Last time I saw Suitcase Royale it felt as if they had sacrificed comedy for mood; producing a richly atmospheric, visually stunning slice of intricate Edwardiana that was mightily impressive, but not all that funny.

Well, in the intervening two years, they’ve thrown their reticence out of the window: this is a ribald, Knockabout show, still visually inventive, often stupidly surreal, but with a much looser, pantomime feel to it.

Space Show involves a suitably silly set-up. A trio of astro-adventurers, Chuck Norris, Kevin Bacon and Kerry O’Brien, travel the cosmos in a race against time to track down the evil genius/failed singing star responsible for mannequinitis, a terrifying disease that has already paralysed their crewmate.

Cue plenty of lunatic adventures across the galaxies with silly costumes, a cardboard Scottish android and a spirit guide with a pizza box for a head. It will come as no surprise to learn that the trio owe a debt to the Mighty Boosh: possibly too large a debt, because at times this felt like a tribute show. A good tribute show, admittedly, but from a troupe striving for originality, it’s unfortunate that the echoes sound so loudly.

The Suitcase Royale trio of Jof O’Farrell, Miles O’Neil and Glen Walton are certainly likeable performers, jollying along the shenanigans with a light touch and good humour, although they sometimes let the chaos get away from them. Breaking out of the script to banter among themselves can bring a refreshing touch of spontaneity, but like a strong spice, it should be used sparingly, lest it overwhelm the whole dish.

From their subdued beginnings, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far towards the disorganised. But the dominant spirit is still one of fun. The props and sets are still impressive – made with more inventiveness than cash, the wobbly walls, inflatable planets and home-made rockets all have an undeniable quirky charm – while the set pieces keep the audience guessing what will come next.

And I, certainly, would like to see what comes next from the Suitcase Royale boys, as they’ve a spaceship full of talent, but haven’t yet hit on the brilliant show that’s surely within them.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009

Review date: 1 Apr 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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