Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 22 Jun 2019

Review by Helen Karakulak

“Slap and Tickle” delights and dazzles, as this exploration of dominance showcases incredible physicality and strong vocals across a range of genres within a variety show that’ll keep you amused, and surprisingly moved.

A dynamic duo, Slap the clown, played by iOTA, and Tickle the gimp, played by Russell Leonard, start strong. Their opening anti-cabaret anthem gives audiences an idea of what they’re in for: devious nonsense, polished and entertaining.

The variety show celebrates the diversity of iOTA’s talents. The ability to switch between dramatically different roles seems effortless, with his physicality never failing to impress. From assuming the role of a crude charlatan to an egotistical elitist, each character commands the stage with ceaseless energy, demanding well-deserved attention.

Supported by his loyal assistant, Tickle the gimp, Leonard brings dramatic flair to the faceless character, with each movement receiving admiration and amusement from audiences. His snappy dancing skills make him instantly likeable, and as the show progresses, it is learned that Tickle’s talents lay beyond the extravagant efforts he goes to in support of Slap.

Although strong on their own, iOTA and Leonard are a riot sharing the stage, with Vaudeville double acts being the highlight of the performance, complimenting one another seamlessly.

The development of the relationship between a clown and his gimp is the selling point of the show, and Leonard’s discovery of his self-worth through dance is surprisingly beautiful and dynamic. Performed with finesse, it makes audiences empathise with a character in a traditionally demeaned role.

The 11-piece jazz orchestra is truly an asset to “Slap and Tickle”. This is due to both the skill of the music throughout the performances of the characters Slap assumed, along with offering emphasis to slapstick moments with flair and precision.

Although an unconventional storyline with a repetitive concept of jumping between partnered routines and showcasing secondary characters, “Slap and Tickle” never tires. In true cabaret fashion, the take away from this production is that with confident flair and immense talent, you can have an outrageous act land impeccably.