Peter and Bambi Heaven: The Magic Inside | Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Peter and Bambi Heaven: The Magic Inside

Note: This review is from 2016

Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Oh, will we ever tire of mocking cheesy cruise ship entertainers with their elaborate sequined costumes, shit-eating grins and showbusiness insincerity? No, probably not.

Peter and Bambi Heaven are just the latest exaggerated take on the world of perma-tanned hopefuls, over-promising glitzy spectacle on a budget while working through their off-stage relationship.

He is a cut-price Copperfield; a Gold Coast illusionist with a wardrobe full of bulge-revealing catsuits, she his romantic and performing partner – a former cage dancer for whom old habits die hard – and together they promise ‘a splash of sun-drenched razzle-dazzle’ as they mix magic and movement. Cue daggy dancing to Steve Miller’s Abracadabra – what else? – purposeful, intense stares and costume changes galore.

The Heavens are actually comedian Asher Treleaven and his real-life partner Gypsy Wood, an accomplished burlesque performer. The couple, instinctively carny folk both, clearly have some affinity with the world they are teasing, so the humour is more affectionate than cruel. And they also have the skills pull off genuine routines, such as Bambi’s chewing-gum skipping rope or the levitation of a hypnotised ‘Sleeping Peter’ (kinda).

It does, however, mean the balance between comedy and genuine spectacle isn’t fully settled. In some routines you’re waiting for a big comic payoff that doesn’t come – an uneventful ‘floating suitcase’ mime comes to mind – while in others the comedy is as subtle as Bambi’s eyeshadow.

The uneven tone is not the only way  The Magic Inside still feels like a work in progress, even though it’s already done a full run at the Adelaide Fringe. There’s a lot of exposition up top, and a bit of audience business with an engagement ring fizzles out, leaving a show that’s usually big on spectacle without the climax it deserves. 

But some of the set pieces are fantastic – not least the ‘Ninja Wizards’ and the demonstration socially aware juggling, that starts off as a mild mockery of the skill, but by the end you won’t be able to keep your eye off the ball. By far the best is the gruesome dance that will leave indelible marks on your brain (and possible Bambi’s ill-advised white stage outfits) – a scene that’s hilarious because it’s so gloriously over the top. Most of the humour is not for the delicate.

And one particular quibble How I wish they hadn’t encouraged the audience to take pictures with the tongue-in-cheek boast that they look good, so why not? Treleavan and Woof might not care, but it’s hugely distracting to watch a show behind a bank of tiny screens popping up every two minutes.

The pair share a charisma to match the photogenic look, and they are certainly characters you could spend more time with, even if this particular show needs more polish.

Review date: 7 Apr 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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