Friday, January 08, 2010

The Pitch, review


There will be a couple of rare times during your life when you will be sitting in an audience being hugely entertained, laughing your arse off whilst simultaneously seething with with envy at the talent on display before you. Peter Houghton's The Pitch is one such occasion. What a talented bastard this guy is.

Written and performed by Peter Houghton, The Pitch follows a writer preparing to pitch his screenplay to a panel of Hollywood big-wigs. He's got most of the story down but needs an ending, but he's going to wing it and come up with something.

From the moment Houghton takes to the stage through to the end there is barely a moment to catch your breath. This is a frenetic performance. It's a dazzling comedic actor delivering a dazzling bit of writing. It's a parody of movie cliché that draws the audience into both the character's personal turmoil (it's unexpectedly moving at times) as well as the very cliches that pull us in to big screen entertainment. While your intellect sits there stroking its chin and admiring the writing and the acting and understanding that Houghton is making us laugh at the formulaic engine of movie-making as well as the fact that we actually love and need these very formulas, the innocent part of you will simply be laughing with sheer joy.

Good impersonations can be comedy gold, and Houghton delivers some wonderful ones including John Malkovich, Clint Eastwood, Robert DeNiro, Russel Crowe, Sean Connery, Stephen Fry, Sir John Geilgud and the sultry Katherine Zeta Jones who all star in this deconstructed block-buster.

But the appeal of this show doesn't rely on these very funny impersonations. They are merely tools. Very funny, clever tools weilded by a mechanic or a carpenter who... I'm fucking this metaphor up badly so I think I'll start a new paragraph.

Peter Houghton is an Australian actor, writer and director, but this compact play (less than 90 minutes, I think) has international appeal. Accents and parochial traits are dealt with as skillfully as the impersonations, and perhaps this is one of the secrets of the show's success: it's funny because it's true.

Not that many of us have pitched screenplays to Hollywood producers, but you recognise the truth of the situation. Somehow it's a universally-recognised situation in the same way that the four or five basic storylines presented in this play are recognised without us necessarily having to experience them. This is turning out to be another pretty rubbish paragraph so I'm going to start another one in which I'll try to round things up and convince you that you should just take my word for it and go and see this show.

There's a lot of really good stuff on offer with the Sydney festival, but this dynamic little show at one of Sydney's theatrical gems is going to be hard to beat. Spiegeltent schmeigeltent. Go to Darlo and see The Pitch. There will be a moment when you will realise that you are witnessing something very special. In fact, there will be many of those moments. Think Robin Williams at his peak. Think Umbilical Brothers. Think Mel Brooks' The Producers. Think... look, just take my word for it; you'd be a fool to miss this show. I'm going back for more and I don't think you can get a better recommendation than that.

The Pitch plays at Darlinghurst Theatre until January 30.


isabelle said...

I wish I lived in Australia, is all I can say. Sounds ace.

Lee said...

Tis pretty ace, mostly. Sounds more ice than ace where you are.

Lee said...

Also, I went back for more as a paying bum-on-a-seat with a friend who was so impressed she sent some of her friends. Says it all, really.