La Bohème
Until 19 Jun 2010

Review by John Wells

Stevl Shefn fits awkwardly into the Cabaret Fringe. But Stevl Shefn, a wild-eyed, febrile refugee from exotic parts unknown, fits awkwardly anywhere. He sits excitedly on stage, dressed in a brown plaid suit, rattling his stream-of-consciousness narrative in his native gibberish, while his restrained translator Fatima, dressed in a black burqa, reveals his jokes and stories in a soft monotone.

Part stand-up, part performance art, part piss-take, Stevl Shefn is the creation of actor and comedian Stephen Sheehan.

Although this show is relentlessly strange, it is ruthlessly intelligent and meticulously presented. It is also very, very funny. Sheehan’s clowning is loose and confident and there are many hearty laughs as well as delightfully odd moments of absurdist nonsense. There is great precision in the writing, the plotting is clever and the use of props and music is ingenious. While the initial gag is amusing, the patterns and comic rhythms make this much more substantial than a one-note show.

Sheehan manages to find a balance of warmth, pathos and a touch of disquiet among the laughs in this wonderfully surreal outing.