REVIEW: Parker & Sainsbury: Giggly Gerties (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Tim George

[Heavy Metal Camp]

Giggly Gerties is the latest joint from the team of Chris Parker & Thomas Sainsbury. Following the ensemble of their last opus Camping, Giggly Gerties is the team distilled to their essence – two men in leotards on a bare stage jabbering nonsense for 50 minutes.

Resting snuggly on the imaginary border between the head spaces of Chris and Tom, Giggly Gerties is kind of a Frankenstein story about a repressed man (Parker) who has been unable to find love, and the machine (Sainsbury) he has created to serve that purpose.

Peppered with flashbacks (the best features a meet cute between two cavemen at the Cro Magnon version of an art gallery), Giggly Gerties initially feels like a series of unrelated sketches featuring pairings of various oddballs (the inventor Devon and his creation Stef Fanie; the cave men; housewives trying to have a conversation while offscreen children run rampant).

By the halfway point, Devon’s plight is brought to the fore, as Stef Fanie’s sense of self and his own desires begin to diverge.

With its limited scope and focus on a man creating an entity that he has no control over, the story does feel like Ex Machina, only with more karaoke and implied sexual congress with a scarecrow.

While the show does feel of a piece with Parker and Sainsbury’s previous work, Giggly Gerties feels much darker and more focused (at least in terms of adhering to a familiar genre template). While his attempts to control his machine are funny, there is something deeply disturbing and sad about Devon’s quest – he never seems to consider pursuing a relationship with a human being, and never considers the ethical implications of what he is doing. Parker plays the role relatively straight, which works for the pair’s comic dynamic, but also has the effect of drawing attention to how morally questionable the character’s actions are. It gave the show a bitter after-taste which made for a neat addition to the duo’s usual hijinks.

As usual, Parker and Sainsbury are terrific as all the characters. No matter who the character is, their motivation or status, Parker and Sainsbury are so in sync they make it all work. It also does not feel repetitive – each relationship feels distinct and interesting in different ways.

While it does not attain the transcendent monomania of Camping, Giggly Gerties is great fun which adds some interesting shades to the usual Parker-Sainsbury palette.

Giggly Gerties plays at The Basement until 5 May. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of the review described this showed as improvised, and the author was subsequently roasted by Chris Parker on Twitter:

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