The Beatification of Newt Berton [and the Great Viagra Robbery] by Chris McDonald. Laughing Stock Productions at The Street Theatre StudioOctober 1-4, 2003.
Farcical, anarchical and occasionally satirical, the Beatification of Newt Berton raises the hackles of horror: what if the world were run by the Church of Good Morning Australia? Would a time traveller from 2093 return to try to prevent Newt's beatification, while cracking on to Gretchen with an execrable joke like "Time is not impotent to me!"
Since we have probably seen the last of this play, after its seasons in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, and winning Best Comedy Writing at the 2003 Big Laugh Festival, I can offer some reflective commentary.
Originating from the drama society at Macquarie University, the material is typical undergraduate humour: genitals, farts, sexual references, itchy sports bras, God, the Devil and a drunken angel constitute the core of the jokes. On the more satirical side, the swamping of our lives by advertising and "newstainment" is the focus. Characters fall in love when they both burst into the same advertising jingles on cue, as if they have been set up by a stage hypnotist.
What keeps the show together is a simple storyline about One-Nut (James Pender) and Danny (Heath Franklin), who are soon to be evicted, except that they hope to turn their house into a shrine when Newt Berton is beatified by the Pope on the premises. The comedy comes from constant interruptions as Danny's girlfriend leaves him, their housemate Steve stashes 400 boxes of Viagra in his room, an incredibly fast-talking Avon lady sells them make-up, Siamese twin nuns arrive to represent the Pope, a newsreader with a tv for a head gives us the latest, a silver short skirted time traveller eats One-Nut's preserved testicle ....
The non-sequiturs require rapid changes in timing, accents, costumes and characters, including inveigling members of the audience to become things like a bookshelf and to respond vocally. The cast kept up the pace of verbal and physical jokes and certainly entertained the audience thoroughly for 70 minutes.
Most of the group are or have been Creative Arts students at Macquarie, and some are moving on to professional theatre training, while some have also had work in television and on stage. If comedy be the food of theatre, play on.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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