Quantum Sheep & Animal Orchestra
Guy Capper’s latest show presents us with his trademark blend of stand-up, animation and music. The theme this time round—“What is string theory?”—is mulled over by our host and pitched to a number of animated interviewees, but never quite solved. The routine progresses like a surreal television talk show, with Capper introducing his lineup of claymation guests to address the audience from outer space via a projected “internet feed” (read: prerecorded video).
The conceit is an interesting one, and the show starts promisingly with an animated prologue, featuring an amusing zen-alien- guru figure who propounds hopelessly vague philosophies on the beginning of the universe. Then Capper takes the stage, and here on in the show is a mess. Capper’s performance is undisciplined and aimless. He anchors himself to a small spot on the left-hand side of the stage and lets forth a stream-of-consciousness monologue which sounds like Spike Milligan trying his hand at Beckett. Except it’s not funny. Nor does it sound rehearsed. Nor does it look like Capper is really trying very hard. He sometimes elicits giggles when his rants reach a feverous pitch of absurdity, but these moments are few, and virtually disappear by the second half. It is a shame; Capper’s breakneck pace (when he’s feeling up to it) and unflinching leaps of absurd logic could provide the kernel of a truly exciting and surreal comic experience. But his lack of structure, presence, purpose, and effort squanders the production. Those that laughed were often laughing at him. The rest, I think, were stoned.
The animated interviews are evidently the mainstay of the routine, and Capper introduces a number of the characters
like old-time favourites (clearly they have appeared in previous shows). The less said about these the better. The interviews
are prerecorded, but it seems Capper’s collaborators (including Jemaine Clement) suffer from the same lack of focus and, well, jokes as he does. Capper often got lost in the interviews, and the guests answered different questions to the ones
he asked. The creatures rely on a Flight-of- Conchords-style awkward, self-deprecating humour, but the muddy, jerky animation prevents the human empathy required to make it work. The question of string theory is neglected, revealing the show’s premise for what it is: an excuse to do more of the same, tired routine. It is telling that the prerecorded component of Capper’s show is just as uninspired as as the live one. Here is a comedian with very few ideas, and no inkling of how to present them.
Quantum Sheep and the Animal Orchestra reveals that there are greater mysteries in the universe than string theory. Guy Capper is one. His ticket prices could do with some scientific analysis too.
With soundtrack contributions by Joe Callwood, Jemaine Clement, Riki Gooch, Rosco Jones, Mike Nyland and Daniel O’Brien.