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John Robertson: Blood & Charm

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

John Robertson’s appealing late-night storytelling show blends the dark with the charming. Tim Burton might be the closest frame of reference, but his most memorable character only had scissor-hands; Robertson’s has a zombie-vagina.

This is an appealing fudge of fact and fiction, melding autobiographical elements such as his S&M relationship with ‘Lady Razor’ or father’s suicide with more fantasmagorical elements so skillfully that you can barely see the join between the surreal and the real until it’s too late.

His sadistic sexual tendancies, painful life and unromanticised view of death naturally made him an ideal candidate for… children’s entertainer. Well, doing a puppet show and theatre in education is pretty much all nine years of stage school prepares you for. He’s got some good stories about how ill-suited he was to the job; while that dramatic background also adds a compelling theatrical element to his stand-up.

Despite the often bleak subject matter, this youthful, lupine Australian, resplendent in stylish brown pinstripe double-breasted waistcoat, carries it with a jovial demeanour, referring himself as ‘Uncle John’ and emphasising his life’s motto that ‘nothing means anything’.

The rich, eventful show also takes us through regular stand-up topics about living in a hipster area of Perth, a mini-recreation of every Edward Albee play ever, and a story about his appearance on Australian Idol – where he performed a manic version of Surfin’ Bird – which was just one in a string of coincidences that led him to his partner.

Ultimately, of course, he concludes that none of this amounts to anything of significance. That’s as may be, but this is a stylish, alternative, funny and at least partially honest journey to nowhere.

Review date: 18 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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