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A sense McDermott still calls Canberra home

The Playhouse audience enjoys an after-show “busking” performance. Photo: Joe Woodward

Theatre / “Paul McDermott Plus One – Blood Orange”, collaboration between Paul McDermott and Glenn Moorhouse. At The Canberra Theatre Centre, November 17. Reviewed by JOE WOODWARD.

IT is 10pm. Many, if not most, of the near capacity audience from The Canberra Theatre Centre gather around the fountain in the open-air to see and hear the buskers singing “Every City in the World is Like Canberra in the Seventies”. 

The show at The Playhouse has finished. But the audience is offered much more.

They have followed the performers out into the city square surrounded by CMAG, the ACT Legislative Assembly building, the theatre and the city centre. 

It is, indeed, like an earlier time in Canberra as the acidic charm of Paul McDermott woos the city once again with a burning wit and high-octane performance aided and abetted by his Plus One, Glenn Moorhouse.

As if the performance in The Playhouse wasn’t enough, the encore extended well past closing time with the audience invited by McDermott to join him for a busking treat post show. 

Paul McDermott is an internationally renowned entertainer, well-known for hosting “Good News Week” and for being a member of the comedy and music group The Doug Anthony All Stars which also had their own ABC television series “DAAS KAPITAL” in the early 1990s. However, seeing him performing, one has a sense he still calls Canberra home!

His brand of pungent comedy had a distinctly Canberra influence. The performance was a lesson in the art of insults and lampooning; all created with comedic finesse and shared energies with the appreciative audience. 

Paul McDermott with Glenn Moorhouse.

While mostly prepared with rehearsed precision there was considerable improvisation that provided some of the funniest moments of the evening. He disproved any suggestion that irony is dead in 2023.

A moth became an unlikely star. Circling in the spotlights above the audience it took everyone’s attention, including that of McDermott and Moorhouse. On cue, the moth then settled on McDermott’s leg and remained there for quite some time. 

The Comedy Gods were indeed smiling on the performance, providing bonus laughs and additional comic material that no one could dream up.

McDermott has a most beautiful singing voice. Moments of serious intent were created with a beautiful resonance and vocal qualities that might be associated with world-class singers. He uses his voice in mercurial ways to disarm dissenters and provide ironic twists to his extreme and, at times, savage assaults on his targets. This was greatly enhanced by the tight harmonies provided by Moorhouse. 

Seeing McDermott on stage, one can see the determination behind the eyes, the energy born of anger, commitment and even deep love. We might begin to wonder how he compares with the ancient comedic presenters such as Aristophanes or Plautus. Or how might he stand with the late George Carlin? 

McDermott and Moorhouse are a great satirical comedy and musical team. Their work certainly will prick the edifice of the Establishment and will surely run the risk of generating great offence. While some people will not find their work socially acceptable, many others will step out of the theatre and wish to participate in on-going “discussions” as we saw at 10pm outside the theatre on a cool Friday night in Canberra!

 

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