Serious strangeness

Klutz – A Tragicomedy (Monsters Appear)

Theatre Republic, The Loft

September 9 – 13

“Klutz – A Tragicomedy” is a peculiar story from the mind of playwright Benjamin Schostakowski, Director of the Matilda Award-winning “A Tribute of Sorts”. Perhaps the show’s most striking moment is its opening tableau – the slanted, shingled rooftop of Klutz Books, from which the entire piece takes place. The show’s protagonist, racoon-eyed and sullen-cheeked teenager Melchior Klutz (Lucas Stibbard) emerges from its attic window and struts about the roof. All emo-ish in his exaggerated woe, he laments of his life in justification of his planned suicide, to shock and confuse all who knew him. Fate intervenes in the form of an errant shuttlecock and he meets neighbour Hendrik (Neridah Waters) who is soon drawn into his uncomfortable, kitshy world. Together they gather each evening on the rooftop to plan his demise and rehearse his funeral, with things never really going exactly as planned.

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More comedy than tragedy, “Klutz” is a both endearing and hilarious. Stibbard is simply wonderful as the young and upset Melchoir, all awkward in his adolescent attempts at swagger. Waters, too offers many comic moments in the physicality of her teenage self-consciousness.

That the lively comedy can transcend such dark subject matter is a credit not only to the realisation of the extreme characterisations, but the cleverness of Schostakowski’s writing, which captures with precision the perfect balance of the peculiar and the macabre. Indeed, in its (slight) boundary pushing, the show is very much like other works from Schostakowski’s cannon of quirkiness, particularly “A Tribute of Sorts” which featured in encore season as part of this year’s QTC line-up. Comparisons to Wes Anderson and Tim Burton are immediate, however, what makes this Schostakowski in style is the additional aesthetics. Retro ‘70s music marks scene transitions and film-like credits roll in the darkness, listing cast and crew, comforting the audience into the show’s heightened realism.

As a seriously strange tale of sexed-up misery, (entirely miserable and fully-sexed up), “Klutz” is a definite highlight of the 2014 Brisbane Festival program and one whose season is all too short. Hopefully we will be treated to another incantation soon for while its serious subject matter may seem like a strange premise for humour, the darker you get, the funnier things sometimes become.

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