JON WALPOLE – ONE MAN PERFORMING A TWO-MAN SHOW – Sydney Fringe Festival (NSW)

Performed by Jon Walpole, written by Jon Walpole and James McLennan

Reviewed by Juliana Payne

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Factory, Marrickville
21-23 September 2022
Tickets: https://sydneyfringe.com/events/jon-walpole-one-man-performing-a-two-man-show/

Everyone has one of those friends who is always late, or stands you up at the last minute, but somehow you stay friends with them while bitterly complaining about how hopeless they are. Jon Walpole’s friend, Tim, inflicts the ultimate standing-up – he doesn’t turnup for their two-man show. In true show biz style, Walpole says the show must go on, and so it does, with Jon performing both his and Tim’s roles.

This show was already funny, but I think it would have been even funnier if they hadn’t given away the gag in the title and show notes.  Walpole is tall, lanky, and lugubrious, as if Oscar Wilde was doing stand-up comedy, but with a sweet cheeky smile that he uses readily to charm the audience. He sets the scene early as we are all finding our seats, repeatedly asking the tech guy “is Tim here yet?” to the tune of ‘Just the Two of Us’ playing in the background.  Of course, we all know that Tim ain’t gonna turn up so we sit back to enjoy Walpole’s misfortune.

Walpole’s persona seems hilariously clueless, but he is tuned in to the audience and works the room well.  With a wide-ranging style and allusive technique, he riffs on the best of the Western comedy canon, from the Marx Brothers to Little Britain, Monty Python and The Simpsons.  In the tiny ‘Workshop’ venue at The Factory, he fills the stage with classic slapstick pratfalls and silly sound effects that have the audience hooting with laughter.  His gangly agility gave an added comical dimension to the physical and visual gags.

Walpole makes the most of the absurdity of his situation, mixing his wide-eyed innocence with a knowing smile, stretching his sketches to their hilarious extremities. The ongoing interplay with the faithful James McLennan, his tech guy, (and co-writer) and the running gag of the martini glass sketch was classic comedy worthy of Laurel and Hardy.

Walpole managed in one hour to draw on well-worn cinema tropes of comedy, drama, and even romance – not easy in a one man show.  And with a special guest appearance by “Matthew McConaughey”, our night’s entertainment was complete.


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