Review: Catching Jack  – Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022 (VIC)

Presented by BigBigBig

Review by Martha “MJ” Latham

Many things in life are total nonsense (just look at our country’s leadership), but very rarely do nonsense things realise, let alone capitalise, on their own nonsense quite as well as the comedy trio BigBigBig.

Catching Jack promises audiences the same kind of grotesque creativity that BigBigBig have made their brand. The play tracks three hotshot detectives (played by Ella Lawry, Madi Savage and Millie Holten) on their quest to find the murderous Jack the Ripper. Along the way you meet a whole posse of characters who each have their own ridiculous pieces to add to the overarching story.

Every character is played by members of the trio, who hilariously quick-change between an increasingly complicated series of costumes. By following the clues, making a deal with the leader of England’s shady upperbelly, and accidentally killing an innocent lantern man, the trio miraculously ties all the insane pieces together. The final result is a beautiful, vomit-filled web made of absurdist skits, exceptional prop humour and enough red string to make BBC’s Sherlock look like Inspector Rex.

The piece is not without its faults. Between skits were long blackouts that could have been filled with pre-recorded jokes, and the sound leaped between deafening and silent which ruined a lot of tonal consistency and audio humor. As with a lot of fringe shows, on opening night there were minor issues like character voices slipping or t-shirt related jokes being revealed early because of sheer outer layers.

These errors are easily forgiven thanks to the charm and talent of the three leads. BigBigBig have mastered the art of the fringe. The piece includes the perfect amount of audience engagement, well curated in-jokes and asides that make the space feel fluid, while still managing to keep the audience enough at bay to give the polish of a scripted work. Millie, Ella and Madi clearly love what they have made and by the end of the one-hour epic you can’t help but love it too.

If you find modern comedy to be lacking in Rat Kings, illegal lizards and a shockingly talented and musical Big Ben, then Catching Jack is the show for you.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Catching Jack plays at the Trades Hall – Meeting Room at the MICF 2022 until 10 April. Find tickets here.

You can find BigBigBig on Instagram @bigbigbigcomedy. Their podcast The Candyman is on Spotify and iTunes.

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