Review: Stark and Dormy, MICF

Thuy On

Master players Bunk Puppets certainly know how to tell a story and then some.
Review: Stark and Dormy, MICF

Bunk Puppets' James Pratt and Christian Bagin in Stark and Dormy. Photo by Andrew Wuttke.

The title, of course is a simple play of words on Dark and Stormy  – you know, those stories that begin with 'It was a dark and stormy night…' and then evolve into strange happenings.

Well, master players Bunk Puppets certainly know how to tell a story and then some. They are two men, dressed in black and between the both of them present a large ensemble of characters. Via silhouette lighting projected on two white screens, and through their own ability to incorporate distinct voices and mannerisms on stage, they run through a dizzying role play list.

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Stark and Dormy is carefully calibrated storyboarding at its best. At the start there seems to be all these disparate elements but then within the space of an hour (that passes very quickly), they all coalesce brilliantly. The show focuses on poor bristle-headed Marty Fox, proprietor of a Fun Park/Zoo who happens to be heavily in debt, and his daughter Jessica, sweet and a little naive. One fateful day (it wasn’t actually dark and stormy?) Jess went fishing for some specimens for her aquarium and inadvertently brought back a spiky round ball that happens to be an alien, and a not-very-friendly one at that. Cue lots and lots of chaos as the creature starts swallowing everything in its path or if the subject proves too big, infecting it with its malignant spirit. It grows and grows and sprouts tentacles.

A separate strain of narrative involves a pretentious restaurant owner, whose menu relies on not just organic fare, but the most gamey and exotic animal flesh available (ostrich burger, anyone?). Other characters include a standover thug and an apocalyptic survivalist. Releasing any more information would be unfair to the Bunk Puppets; this is a show you just have to witness. The last ten minutes is particularly inspired, with the audience asked to put on 3D glasses to see the madcap action on stage through a greater depth of field as various characters race around in pursuit and escape. Suitable also for older kids (age ten plus), Stark and Dormy is a great night out regardless of the weather.

4 stars ★★★★

Stark and Dormy

Bunk Puppets

James Pratt and Christian Bagin

28 March - 21 April 2019

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

About the author

Thuy On is a freelance literary journalist and critic and the books editor of The Big Issue.