Comedy Review: Careful What You Wish For
David Strassman. Picture: Tony K Lewis.

If you're coming up from Rockingham for the show, be warned. Your region gets more than its share of the bucketing handed out by characters such as Chuck, Sid the Beaver and grandpa Fred Bare. (Not the cute and kind Ted E. Bare, though).

Their alter ego David Strassman likes to throw his weight around as a satirist of people and places, and poor old Rockingham is rich ground for bogan material, apparently. Even Julia Gillard cops a couple of mentions, so Rockinghamites needn't feel too bad.

Strassman's Careful What You Wish for is the "seventh or eighth time" his puppets have confronted audiences at the Regal Theatre, and his new hi-tech show, complete with three enormous back projection screens, still sits comfortably in the old venue.

Every time the American ventriloquist-cum-satirist has appeared, his shows have grown in technological sophistication, though the satire and humour retain the same sharp, topical edge with unapologetic profanities.

Much-loved is the innocent Ted E. Bare (the queues to buy him as a cuddly toy in the foyer are long) and the adolescent Chuck is as malevolent and as crude as ever, pushing the boundaries of good taste and sexual innuendo with undisguised glee in those flashing eyes.

This time, though, thanks to technological advances, he can actually spit at the audience, so those in the front row beware.

Strassman's conversations with his characters are as witty and funny as ever, delivering a stream of wisecracks that seem unstoppable so long as the man's energy levels remain at their high pitch, and his multitude of voices never flags in inventiveness.

Careful What You Wish For has a kind of narrative structure, based on the cute premise that the rebellious Chuck has persuaded the other characters to help him take over Strassman's mind (oh, the irony of it all.)

In the second half Strassman enters a Star Wars-style alternative reality, a frontier from which he strives to return if only he can gather the clues. In this alternative universe his old characters take on new and more warped characteristics, so that our "re-encounters" with them have an even more disturbing dissonance.

Kevin the Alien makes his appearance, Grandpa has had a sex change, Chuck now sports Maori head tattoos and Sid the Beaver is acting very strangely.

It may be very silly as a narrative but Strassman knows how to keep on inventing so the audience is totally entranced by his cleverness and wit.

If you've never seen Strassman in full flight, then you owe it to yourself to see him. If you're a fan, the new show won't disappoint.

And you will get to see how far the art of the ventriloquist, with a hand up the backside of a wooden puppet, has come since this multi-voiced American emerged on the scene more than 20 years ago. <div class="endnote">


The West Australian

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