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May 5, 2008 | by  | in Theatre |
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Rubber Turkey

Rubber Turkey
Written and Directed by Eli Kent
At Bats
April 22-26

A horse walks into a bar. “So,” says the barman. “Why the long face?” I won’t deny that this joke has occasioned within me many a chuckle, but never did I expect to see it materialized in front of me. I mean, seriously, how the hell is a horse supposed to get through a door? After watching Rubber Turkey I’m proud to say that I can tick off one box on my list of absurd events I never thought I would witness – I can now confirm that I have in fact seen a horse walk into a bar.

Rubber Turkey is about jokes – in a very literal sense of the word. All of the four main characters in Rubber Turkey, written and directed by Eli Kent, are stereotypes taken from jokes. There’s the blonde, the clown, the ‘guy’ who walks into a bar, and a big chicken, all of which live together in a flat. Something is amiss, however – these jokes have lost their essence. They’re no longer funny; they are missing that vital spark which gives them life. And, as the play reveals to us, it’s bad news for a joke if they stop being funny…they die.

All said and done, Rubber Turkey is pretty hilarious. Kent clearly harbours a confident ability for satire, offering many instances of an assured wit. The suicidal chicken, who mopes about giving interludes on the philosophical nature of humour, is played superbly by Jack Shadbolt and is a fine example of the play’s offbeat sense of humour. Indeed, all of the characters in the play are used very innovatively, such as Blondie the Blonde (played by Abby Marment), whose position as a blonde is compromised by a high score on an IQ test, Guy Walker (played by Alex Greig), who drinks too much to give a shit any more, and Winston the Clown (played by Oliver Cox), who has suddenly realised that it sucks to be a clown.

While undeniably entertaining, the show is not without a few hindrances here and there. Once the novelty of the shows premise has worn off, the script becomes a bit repetitive and tends to linger on a similar structure. I was also perturbed by a moment involving a tap on one character’s head. Despite a costume change moments before hand, the actor emerged from the wings not only with said tap attached, but a large and ridiculously obvious rubber tube running backstage, out of which some sort of brain juice soon dribbled. I hope that this was an Artauvian ‘if you have a puppet, show the strings’ moment….

Rubber Turkey makes a great effort at turning comedy into itself. Although I do think that the tragedy aspect might have been left to emerge with a little bit more subtlety, the overall impression of the show is of a talent on the rise.

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