2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Trygve Wakenshaw and Barnie Duncan in Constantinople

Posted on 11 April 2012

Constantinople is a piece of fairy floss: lots of sugar, lots of colour, and frothy with lighthearted fun. The recommendation I received was, “Go see it and enjoy a grape.” Yes, a bit cryptic, but I trusted my source.

Trygve Wakenshaw and Barnie Duncan formed their own company Theatre Beating in 2003 Auckland New Zealand. They had performed together on the show The Butcher’s Daughter and wanted to further explore slapstick comedy as a team. Wakenshaw has studied with the prestigious clown trainer Phillippe Gaulier. Duncan is an actor, musician, DJ, and has appeared on Power Rangers: Mystic Force and Xena Warrior Princess. Together they are a creative force to be reckoned with.

Constantinople roughly outlines the rise and fall of that city. However, the tidbits of real information are simply launching points for wildly imaginative sketches. Mentioning the Hippodrome leads to a sketch about a horse at a beauty salon having its nails/hooves done. Pointing out the city’s hotspots leads to a sketch about an ancient discotheque where the Emperor Constantine likes to party down.

I loved every moment of the opening sketch where mime and foley are used to create a dreamscape where anything can happen. It also takes an overly long time before bringing us to the theme of the show, and could be better integrated. When something is that good and not quite fitting into a story I’m working on, I have occasionally pulled it out and given it a story of its own. This sketch certainly had that potential.

Over all the show was well realised. Wakenshaw’s cheeky joyfulness was infectious and easily engaged the audience. Duncan was so beautifully focused on the scenarios, his performance added a truthfulness to the humour. The visiting and revisiting of characters made it possible for the audience to know and care about their fortunes, as well as get a good laugh out of running gags. Especially impressive was the sheer volume of interesting and surprising ideas. For their next show, I would suggest they find a professional mime artist to help tighten their realisations.

Constantinople plays like a mashup of Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati and And Now for Something Completely Different by Monty Python. You come away feeling a little bubblier.

Peace and kindness,



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