REVIEW: Leon Wadham: Giddy (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Nathan Joe

[Sisyphus Smiles]

An ecstatic delight, Leon Wadham’s Giddy is like a hot knife in butter, cutting through all the standup in the festival and making itself known. That’s not to discredit or undervalue the talent required for conventional forms of comedy writing, but there’s something special about a show so unashamedly kooky as Giddy is.

Structured as a series of brief sketches, transitions are simply done through stating a scene change and a shift in physicality. Both full of anxiety and hope, wearing his smile like a badge of stoicism, one-man band Wadham performs with a skill and precision that paints the Basement Studio’s black box with our imaginations. While the show’s energy is generated through Wadham’s tongue-twisting athleticism and highly-caffeinated speech, unexpected moments of profundity slip in too. It’s the theatrical equivalent of bingeing on a compulsively readable webcomic (think: Hyperbole and a Half or The Oatmeal).

Combining elements of physical theatre, absurdity and observational humour, Wadham takes the banal observations of the everyday, zooms in on them, and then implodes them until they’re unrecognisable. From feeding ducks, attending weddings and stargazing, his unique character is, like all of us, just trying to find his place in this crazy universe. A 21st century Sisyphus for our attention-deficit times. This is existentialism without the angst.

Leon Wadham plays The Basement until 12 May. 

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