The Eulogy | Review by Steve Bennett
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The Eulogy

Note: This review is from 2016

Review by Steve Bennett

Michael Burgos has the attributes to be a great clown: wide eyes, malleable lips, an exaggerated physicality. But in The Eulogy, he mugs it up with a script that doesn’t give him much outright funny to say, so exposing the limitations of his over-the-top performance.

The premise is, you guessed it, a eulogy, being given to the dearly departed Tomas, a glutton killed by too many eggs. Burgos delivers his tribute his with the physical jerks and verbal tics of a real-life Professor Frink from The Simpsons. The audience don’t really know what to make it, and it’s only going to get weirder.

For somehow he transmogrifies into an evangelist, again with the strange cadences, even though it’s a different character. Inexplicably he starts ranting about modern-day slavery in Qatar. Did not see that coming. The high praise for the deceased subsides into quibbles about his irritating habits, like squeezing toothpaste from the middle of the tube. Really? Is that the most original thing he could come up with?

Then the corpse himself starts talking because… well, Burgos wants to be another character I guess. Little of this makes sense. Theatre-goers might enjoy it more, and The Eulogy has collected rave reviews around the world, but I’m still calling pretentious claptrap.

In every guise Burgos declaims like a hammy actor quoting Shakespeare, full of import and dramatic pauses. The show would be done in 20 minutes without these, and the words are definitely not Shakespeare.

In Edinburgh in August, you are never more than 10ft away from a graduate of the Gaulier clown school, and Burgos is one of them… but he wears his position as an Important Comedic Actor so proudly on his sleeve that it stifles any comedy. And Gaulier means audience interaction, with badly communicated ideas designed to make the ‘victim’ slip up so we can mock them. Big tick against that old trope,which includes flirting with the woman in the front who is deemed Tomas’s widow.

There are a couple of nicely executed ideas (if not entirely original) such as toasting marshmallows on the funeral pyre, and the false sincerity of funerals is a theme worth probing. When Burgos recreates mild-mannered Tomas in his toddler days, all his performance pyrotechnics are turned down and Burgos shows he can be sympathetic and human, qualities missing in his artsy grotesques.

The Eulogy won the best comedy award at this year’s Adelaide Fringe, so maybe judges there saw something I (and a lot in this audience) didn’t. But at this funeral, I was jealous of the guy in the casket.

Review date: 25 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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