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Cactus: The Seduction

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Though wonderfully executed, Cactus: The Seduction wears its cleverness rather too prominently on its sleeve, slipping too easily into pretentiousness and too reluctantly into funny.

Poor Jonno Katz, whose award-winning clown-like performance this is, doesn’t even warrant a mention in this show’s entry Fringe programme – although the show’s director Mark Chavez does. But then again, he is half of the awesome Pajama Men.

So it’s unsurprising that Cactus shares some characteristics with Chavez’s own act: switching between multiple characters (with a supporting cast that gets as obscure as a pair of scorpions) and featuring a heavy dollop of physical comedy, with scenes of gory excess conveyed only in mime.

Part of this tale is told as a New Zealand narrator called Phil, telling the story of when he went walking through a desert of loneliness with Russian companion Yuri and Brit Eric, ostensibly in search of love but metaphorically on a journey of self-discovery as they swap tall tales and small talk.

In whatever guise, Katz works the room expertly, though the script is droll rather than hilarious. A couple of lines stand out, though, including a witty stand-up routine about lost virginity. Though hard-earned points are lost for making the audience fake an orgasm in a cheap bit of participation.

Other than this, the wonderfully expressive Katz often mocks his own script’s highfalutin aims, but making light of the fact doesn’t quite negate them; while the mime elements, though expertly performed, never really seemed to make a connection.

It’s an ambitious attempt to meld various styles into one coherent piece of theatrical comedy, but the isolated moments of funny don’t gel into a more satisfying whole.

Review date: 23 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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