REVIEW: Faux Real (Comedy Festival)

Are you faux real? [by Sharu Delilkan]

Faux Real - Gareth Williams
Faux Real

When I arrived at the Herald Theatre I was a little disappointed with the small number of people in the foyer.

“I’m early I told myself”.  But unfortunately that didn’t change as we filed into the venue to take our seats.

I actually counted 35 people in total, including me and my husband, which made for a very intimate audience.

All I could think was “Hope this isn’t too demoralising for Gareth Williams.”

But from the minute he appeared on stage, the consummate performer gave us his all.

Williams’ madness and craziness was totally on display tonight. 

This one-man song, dance and physical theatre spectacular is the result of Williams joining forces with Christ Almighty writer Dan Musgrove.

The question you find yourself asking and answering in one breath is:  “What if you were trapped inside your own head…with John Farnham?”

The result is a totally bizarre dream world.

Unfortunately those who hoping for a gala of Farnham songs loosely linked to a plot could be a bit disappointed. 

But those who think Farnham is a God will be pleasantly surprised that he truly is one in Faux Real. The God of Pop Rock to be exact. A God whose riffs have dropped a thousand women’s dacs and sent them into orbit! And a God who gives Williams the heroic task of ‘saving the World from the decline of pop/rock’.

Bizarre from the start, an angle poised lamp is one of the main characters. 

The incredible back projection courtesy of Roko Babich provides a perfect narrative for the story. And the slick production team incorporating lighting (Rachel Marlow), sound (Ben King), props (Brad Knewstubb), graphics (Williams again!) and music (Byron Coll) combine seamlessly to complement Williams’ on-stage antics.

Incorporating a puppeteer (Milo Cawthorne) is genius, cutting down the need for a stagehand to pass Williams his props, while adding humour.

But despite great lines and Williams’ superb acting, nothing could mask the fact that many young audience members didn’t have a clue when familiar lyrics from iconic songs like Midnight Oil’s were mentioned (‘How do you sleep when our beds are burning?’).

And when Williams finally bursts on stage complete with the Farnham 80s hairdo, he delivers a fabulous rendition of Farnham’s You’re the Voice, complete with multiple, and strangely familiar band members on screen providing a well-coordinated backing band.

Which would have been even greater if the audience had joined in a bit more.

Maybe I was showing my age but I definitely felt that I was singing alone.

I for one feel this was a wasted opportunity considering William’s amazing talent as a singer and performer – and I wanted to hear and see more of this.

Faux Real should have lived up to the hype and delivered more Farnham songs, no question.  God he may be but even God can’t always satisfy a crowd.

Hopefully Williams’ infections enthusiasm will play to larger, more appreciative audiences from now on …

Faux Real plays at the Herald Theatre until 7 May as part of the NZ International Comedy FestivalMore information at the Faux Real website.

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