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Asher Treleavan: Secret Door

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

In this inconsistent but intriguing show Asher Treleavan aims to take on the blokey image of masculinity through the medium of being a camp, preening fop.

He wins the festival’s ‘best dressed’ award for his stunning white suit, though his exaggeratedly arch performance is strangely forced; with hands ever-wringing and limbs ever-flailing in an exaggerated ballet that owes a debt to the deliberate physicality of both Russell Brand and John Cleese, but without the flowing elegance of either. Between scenes, he pops pills, or draws on an oxygen mask, Blue Velvet-style, which might explain his psychoses, even if the shtick is not entirely convincing.

The ethereal material goes between tantalising moments of scintillating genius, and unfortunate reminders of other things. Combating street crime by striking silly poses is similar to Phil Nichol’s ‘jazz ballet’ routine, while the story of Thomas Midgely Jr inventing both leaded petrol and the use of CFCs has been told better by Stephen Fry on QI. Then there’s the sarcastic reading of a lengthy passage from Mills And Boon, a staple of Robin Ince’s mothballed Book Club, to which Treleavan has contributed both in London and Edinburgh.

Yet his quest to write a non-generic airline routine strikes a rich, complex comedic seam; his description of cunnilingus is an raucous and fresh take on a much-covered subject; and his outrageous ideas for combating knuckle-headed homophobia in Australian society are hilariously extreme. For all his unconvincing performance quirks – which may yet coalesce into a clear persona – Treleavan does know how to craft a gag-rich stand-up routine with a point.

While it might be flawed, this is a bold show that grabs the attention, and is almost certain to increase Treleavan’s stock.

Review date: 10 Apr 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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