Lawrence Leung's Part-Time Detective Show

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Over the years, Lawrence Leung has made this type of PowerPoint-heavy festival show his own: entertainingly geeky, cheerfully self-deprecating and meticulously put-together.

However, his annual outings are also in danger of becoming a exercise in fitting the formula; so while there’s plenty to enjoy in his Part-Time Detective Agency, not least his eager, friendly delivery, there’s also a pseudo-academic detachment that means it’s definitely a show from the head, not the heart.

The premise is that Leung wants to put his amateur sleuthing skills to the test. He started off by placing an advert on Gumtree advertising his services, but it attracted only one, sarcastic, reply. It’s a shame as it might have proved a great adventure, had he been sent on various madcap missions.

Instead, he chooses to investigate an incident from his own past: just who did play that humiliating prank on him at his 21st birthday? He has four prime suspects, his mates who were forever pulling practical jokes on each other, but which one?

After a fun bit of set-piece audience participation, showing off his magician’s skill of being able to read body language with some high stakes to lend the trick some jeopardy, Leung explains his love for detectives (and the Brandon Lee film The Crow) before setting out what we know of the cold-case crime.

Embarrassing old pictures and confessions of his socially awkward past set the scene, before he confronts on video his old pals – some of whom will be recognisable to regular festival-goers – about their movements on August 25, 19... well, his exact age is one mystery he want to remain unsolved.

The well-polished story depends entirely on Leung’s considerable likable energy in making it pertinent, even when there’s not much more to the joke than what a slightly odd youth he was. But, true to his form for narrative neatness, the investigation holds an obligatory twist as we near the resolution, and holds the interest throughout.

So even though it’s slight stuff, there’s no mystery to the fact that Leung’s warmth and storytelling skills make it a satisfying, happy hour.

Review date: 14 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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