Bakehouse Theatre
Until 29 Feb 2020

Review by Lance Jones

James Bond films are essentially a parody of the secret agent genre, which in itself has been the subject of its own parodies – and why not? The Bond series is rich in clichés ready to poke fun at, from the evil dude stroking the cat, to long-suffering Miss Moneypenny and her unrequited longing for the hero. In this unauthorised parody of a parody, Gavin Robertson captures the audience right from the start with the all-too familiar “shoot at the camera” scene, and then takes us on a non-stop hour-long journey of very well executed Bond gags and send ups.

Gavin uses a minimalist stage with three simple steel doorframes that he moves along with great artistic agility. These three single props frame the action, depicting anything from doors to showers, bars, cliffs, various modes of transportation and even torture chambers. He himself is dressed plainly in a black suit and black t-shirt yet manages to insert into our imaginations a myriad of characters taking part in a whole host of well-known Bond clichés. He even manages a two-person nude shower scene while wearing the black suit. Had to be there…

The entire show hinges on the characterisations that involve seamless movement from one character to the next, even when they are having “conversations” with each other. Each character is played with different accents, save and except for two particular characters having a conversation in the same accent (once again, had to be there). One simply cannot miss the familiar characters, each one firmly embedded in Bond pop-culture. The quality of the movement is well rooted in mime and is very impressive. So are the comedic send-ups. Gavin often uses spoken explanations such as “slide” when sliding things, and “push” when pushing things to enhance the miming action, adding even more hilarity into the mix.

One particular highlight of the night was the “car chase”. In the attempt to avoid a spoiler, let’s just say this clever montage slotted into the rest of the show without any lack of credibility, even though the credibility was seriously challenged. No matter, that’s what comedy is all about, the challenge of combining reality with fantasy, and not even missing a beat between the two. The audience all just went along for the ride. It was a superb suspension of reality that was real enough because we all wanted it to be, not to mention that it was absolutely hilarious as well.

And then there are those “hands”. Gavin uses them to cut, slice, smoke, ride, plummet, embrace, shoot, stab, chop, and chase. He also uses them as a technical tool to segue from one scene to the next in a send up of those movie transitions where the scene “wobbles” from one part to the next. Yup, had to be there…

This show is impressive in the manner in which one single human being can cram so many characters, scenes and props on stage. Yet, it all happens because the audience lets it happen, because we want it to. Gavin knows it and uses this to create an excellent piece of theatre. That’s OK, because the show will leave you shaken but not stirred from the laughter. Make sure you get to see it before Bond gets too old for this stuff anymore.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)