Sabrina D’Angelo is odd. There are no two ways about it. Whether you think she is hilariously odd or just plain weird will come down to your appreciation for the absurd and your willingness to sit uncomfortably waiting for a punch line.
In Why Do I Dream, D’Angelo quietly takes her audience on an awkward journey through someone’s subconscious. A day on, I’m still not sure whose. The audience is told at the start of the show that they will see a physical re-enactment of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and, while a more literary person than I might have been able to follow this storyline, I was completely lost after the first fifteen seconds. That being said, this nonsensical premise only made the string of ridiculous skits that filled the next forty-five minutes even more ridiculous. And I loved them all the more for it.
Without a sensible storyline to follow, the thing that actually tied this show together was the amazing array of physical comedy on display. There isn’t much talking, but D’Angelo manages to highlight the absurdity of the human mind with facial expressions, mime and an unbelievable ability to put large objects in her mouth. She even makes stock-standard genital jokes bizarrely hilarious with the help of a plastic bag and an apple.
In an interview about her recent comedic training, D’Angelo explains how she learnt the value of on-stage vulnerability. This, teamed with a few easy laughs here and there (think changed song lyrics and silly card games) make this performer extremely likeable, which is a necessary trait if you’re asking your audience to go along with general strangeness for most of your show.
If you’re happy to sit back and let an erotic bumbag, a repressed bear and a baby woman with a wormhole become your norm for the duration of the show, you will be rewarded with dozens of laughs and get many more as you revisit the stranger moments after you leave. I am laughing even more as I recollect the show than I did while watching it. If you’re the kind of person who likes to understand what’s going on at all times, maybe go and see some stand up.
This is Fringe to the core. Amazing.
(Note to the director: I was sitting in the back row and fear I missed some comedy gold when the jokes took to the floor and disappeared from view.)
Sabrina D’Angelo’s Why Do I Dream is playing 28 September to 5 October at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.