Nina D. Flanagan writes…

If you have never seen a Cal Wilson show before, you need to go see what you are missing. Cal Wilson is Guilty had a few tiny hiccups, but still deserves to be on the shortlist of shows to see this year.

We were ushered in slightly late, and the sold out crowd took their time filing in, but the time wasted was definitely recouped by Wilson’s rapid pace. A high energy performer, once Wilson’s on a roll there’s not much stopping her.

Wilson is a smart performer: there is no reliance on gross-out humour or one-liners. Instead, she recounts ordinary events from her own life, in such a way that the audience collectively erupt. Breakups, museums and zoos all become settings for intricate and hilarious anecdotes involving maladjusted men, mischievous mountain lions and manic geese.

Guilty examined themes of shame and guilt, exploring Wilson’s past misdeeds, with particular focus on the holy trinity of guilt inducers: mothers, religion and sex. Due in part to a clear theme, Wilson creates a cohesive show, smoothly wending her way through different topics and incorporating contributions from the audience seamlessly.

Wilson tends to invite audience interaction, and had cards distributed before the show requesting the audience to write anything they wish to stop feeling guilty about. These turned out to be largely superfluous, but did prime the audience to start thinking about their own stories, ready for Wilson’s questioning.

There was a wobbly point where Wilson workshopped a confession with a Catholic priest: Wilson was the priest and an audience member ran her through the procedure. The sketch, while innovative, did not contribute much to the show  and took up time that could have been better spent exploring more of Wilson’s own exploits.

A solid, skilfully delivered show from a bankable crowd-pleaser.

Cal Wilson is Guilty is on at the Melbourne Town Hall, 7:15pm Tues – Sat, 6:15pm Sunday until 21st April.

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