Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Asher Treleaven, returning for another Edinburgh Fringe, after a Best Newcomer nomination last year, handles challenging material deftly, like the matador enticing then conquering his bull.
What do you do if met with casual racism in every day life? From strangers, shopkeepers, fellow travellers? This may not seem a typical premise for a comedy show, but it is the one Asher Treleaven has selected for his Edinburgh piece this year. A seasoned Aussie comic who has been working the festival circuit a good few years now, Treleaven handles the tricky subject matter with grace. As he says himself, he seems to attract weirdos, – and after all, weirdos sometimes have backward opinions, and backward opinions are good fodder for comedy aimed at the educated middle-class attendees of arts festivals.
Treleaven is a very good comedian. Slightly bug-eyed, very tall, never restrained by the concept of a microphone on a stand, he swans and sashays his way around the stage (as he mentions through the show – he spent three years training in the method of Lecoq, a physical theatre practitioner. He’s also trained in circus arts). His humour is a touch political, but nothing inaccessible, and there are plenty of penis jokes to balance anything too intellectual out.
He has chosen a tricky subject matter – the social commentary is pretty heavy-going, and some of the anecdotes do need a lot of explaining to a UK audience as they often have an Australian context, however there are enough jokes that require no political background. Treleaven does well to keep his observations perky, though there are flickers in energy of this show. It’s not a big house the night I see it, and when two separate audience members leave to use the loo, with quite a lot of noise (one doesn’t return), there is a distinct lull caused by the commotion, and Treleaven does have to battle a bit to refocus the audience.
Two stories show Treleaven’s fantastic skill as a raconteur, keeping us enthralled – a tale of bravery in the Thai jungle at night is told with gusto, and his final story about the racist sheep on his family farm is delightfully told and has Treleaven provides a soundtrack and does a fabulously physical retelling of the story. This show is very well-written and you will enjoy Treleaven’s turn of phrase as much as his physicality.