2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Michael Workman in Mercy

Posted on 06 April 2012

One of the glorious things about the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is that it’s about comedy: not just standup, not just sketches or impro, but anything that brings smiles and laughter to your lips.

Michael Workman’s shows verge on comic performance art. He brings together storytelling, poetry, illustration, and musical composition to create a series of happenings—many of which are funny or absurd, then others which are touching or profound.

Mercy is held together by a story about a man living in Cuba during the Cold War years and the decisions he made because of the love he held for his family. These decisions brought with them heartbreak and hardship. Mercy could so easily be a political drama, but it’s not.

Workman paints the situation like a master pointillist. For a moment we are called upon to learn about the political situation around Cuba in the 60s, in another we learn shark facts, in still others we learn about the feelings of a man and a woman for each other, then we learn a little bit about angels and the metaphorical creation of stars.

For an instant you may wonder, why are these important? But as experience upon experience is layered onto the canvas, it’s all about touching our feelings, all of them: anger, joy, fear, love… Our empathy is released and we find we are able to see the big picture with so much more compassion.

Mercy is a beautiful and gentle work that uplifts. It’s definitely a “you laugh, you cry” sort of show. You will remember this experience and its sweet moral for a very long time. I cannot recommend Michael Workman and Mercy highly enough.

Peace and kindness,



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