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Published on Friday, 22 July 2011

4 stars

Underground Venues - Pauper's Pit
18 Jul, 9:15pm-10:00pm; 19, 21-22 Jul, 6:15pm-7:00pm; 20 Jul, 10:30pm-11:15pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

The age of silent movies may be over, but Awkward Cough Theatre Company is bringing silent comedy to the stage.  An imaginative, physical piece, Criminy follows the misadventures of three stooges, as they try to make their fortune with a bank heist – without speaking a single word.

Blending pratfalls, contemporary pop-culture references and a classic piano soundtrack (with some well-placed and witty exceptions), Criminy proves that the silent comedy is a timeless, entertaining and accessible art-form. Expertly performed by Thomas Booth, Ian Farnell and Samuel Oliver as the three incompetent but likeable stooges, the show is an enjoyable ride – full of slapstick, prop gags, and some highly impressive physicality.

At 45 minutes, the show is a lot longer than the most of the comedies from the golden age of silent cinema, but Criminy is absorbing and diverting throughout. A testament to their skillful physical storytelling, the three performers held the unwavering attention of the audience right up to the finish, even leaving us wanting more.

A couple of the longer scenes could benefit from a little trimming to aid the flow of the story, but even the longest of the set-pieces is engaging and comic. All three performers fully inhabit their roles, and though there were points where the physicality could be a touch more defined, this is a consummate piece of storytelling packed with humour.

Wonderfully silly, Criminy is an energetically performed show, with more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.  Full of all the classic elements of silent comedy, but also wildly inventive, the misadventures of this unlikely trio are simply and creatively told by a skilled and creative company.

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