REVIEW: Judge, Jury & Cookie Monster (Auckland Fringe)

Review by Tim George

[Anatomy of a Biscuit]

So, who did steal the cookie from the cookie jar? Proof that the worst pitches can still make great shows, John Burrows’s Judge, Jury & Cookie Monster initially comes across as a dare. ‘You wanna see a REAL Fringe show?’

Starring Kirsty Bruce, Courtney Eggleton, Lucas Haugh, Will Moffatt, Sneha Shetty, Kyle Shields and an unsuspecting guest star, Judge, Jury & Cookie Monster is a court room drama about a missing cookie.

Taking place in the Cookie High Court, the show resembles a cross between a 70’s variety show (complete with dancing host) and a pothead’s dream of what Judge Judy is like.

With the audience acting as both the jury and the brain of a key character witness (don’t ask), the actors play out all the expected legal cliches: cross-examining suspects, reviewing evidence and shocking character revelations.

Filled with plenty of silly puns, Burrows’ conceit is wafer-thin. It is a one-joke premise, but the well-judged performances and non-winking presentation mean that it is far funnier than the title would suggest.

As far as the performances go, the standouts are Will Moffatt as the host and Kyle Shields as Graham Cracker. Moffatt boogies around the stage as though possessed by the spirit of Family Feud host Richard Dawson. Cheesy, superficial and vaguely self-satisfied, he is in danger of stealing the show every time he swoops onstage.

The person keeping Moffatt out of the spotlight is Kyle Shields’s perfectly realised portrayal of the slovenly, easy-going Graham Cracker. Playing a stereotypical kiwi bloke is low hanging fruit in comedic terms, and yet Shields somehow finds a way to make it feel fresh.

A combination of pitch-perfect comic timing and understated inarticulacy, Shields turns Cracker into a strangely sympathetic caricature, and the source of some of the show’s biggest laughs.

A testament to execution over inspiration, Judge, Jury & Cookie Monster is a strange, silly little treat.

Judge, Jury & Cookie Monster is presented by Burrowed Time and plays at Q Loft until 3 March as part of Auckland Fringe. 

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