Sammy J and (purple puppet) Randy are back for yet another round at the Comedy Festival with The Inheritance. There’s singing, some sword-fighting, creepy caretakers, ghosts and some ‘fully sick’ songs about subwoofers.
Watching a show featuring Sammy J and Randy is like meeting someone who’s overdone the plastic surgery – there’s a little too much to look at. The speed can sometimes be frenzied, but it doesn’t make for an unpleasant experience. Songs are used as a hyperactive reprieve from the zipping storyline rather than as a tool to advance it.
Sammy J is the perfect skinny, nerdy patsy to Randy’s good-time goofery. They’re the typical odd-couple; one timid, weak-willed, desperate, and the other a puppet so comfortable with his sexual habits as to defy the logic of everyday biology. The story revolves around the intricacies of Randy’s sudden good fortune by way of an inheritance from a mysterious, England-based uncle. This, of course, turns into a goofy tale of shared family history that mires both Sammy J and Randy in murder, intrigue and trap doors, all the while giving Sammy J various opportunities to look terrified and needy, which he exploits as often as possible.
This show is tightly run and snappy, yet there’s still room to move within this framework. Interestingly, it was when things went wrong that The Inheritance was at its most hilarious. One scene involving shadow puppetry went hilariously awry when a puppet’s head broke off; references to the puppet’s enormous ‘nong’ (his abandoned puppetry stick) were, for once in the world of comedy, completely appropriate and not at all overdone. And when puppeteer Heath McIvor became stuck offstage in an ill-considered moment of schaudenfreude, his escape is half-assed but sticks resolutely to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the show.
There are numerous times when McIvor (clothed head to toe in black velvet) breaks character. More often than not, he tends to steal the show. He has quips ready to fire through his character’s mouths. But it’s this, coupled with other random self-conscious asides to the audience, that sometimes makes The Inheritance a bit too heavy on self-awareness. Sometimes, it’s entertaining enough to be immersed in the storyline without being constantly yanked out of the fantasy by wry smiles and the ubiquitous performer’s habit of self-referencing for quick comedy gags.
The Inheritance is everything you would expect from a professional, experienced crew and a well-loved format of odd-couple adventure stories. It’s great, goofy fun for adults. Aside from one too many how-unreal-is-this moments, Sammy J and Randy give their audience as many puppet sex jokes as they can handle. It’s childish (but definitely not child-friendly) puppetry geared for adult sensitivities.
Sammy J and Randy in The Inheritance is on at the Forum Theatre, Tuesday – Saturday 8:30pm, Sunday 7:30pm, until April 22nd.
Siobhan Argent has her own blog called ReviewMania.