Reviews //

Pepsi: The Refreshing Taste of Theatre

Erin Jordan appreciated the ambience of Ambient Comedy.

Enter into the PepsiCo sponsored universe of Ambient Comedy and uncover the sassiest and the darkest side of the Web, run by fembot Victoria Zerbst, Declan Maher’s Elon Musk/Roomba amalgamation and meditation tape enthusiast Aidan Molins.

But beware: this isn’t your run-of-the-mill vanilla comedy production; as they are keen to remind us – “it’s art.”

Come prepared to sip on chosen cups of Pepsi, be hammered with strobe lights and smoke machines, and to be doused in a vanilla spray (perhaps there is something vanilla about this production after all). My advice for future audience members – soak it all up! While the relaxed cushions-and-futons seating arrangements seem to offer little lumbar support, it may be a long time before you encounter a production as thorough as this one in attending to the physical experience of its audience.

The stand-out performance of the night is Zerbst’s twisted love song to Julian Assange. Not only is it well sung, but it is also well researched, featuring real excerpts from Assange’s OkCupid profile. “I’m going to Wikileak all over the bed,’ croons Zerbst in the song’s true wicked spot of genius.

But the show’s knowledge is not limited to Assange’s affairs, love or otherwise. Certainly don’t be put off by its focus on the intricacies of the dark web, or Tesla. I am happy to admit that I had never heard of a Roomba, but that did not take away from my understanding or experience of the production. Or perhaps it is Maher’s hilarious undertaking as the Roomba that managed to instil within me a deep appreciation for robotic vacuuming appliances. It is rare that you truly learn something from a production, but I will put money on it that you will leave Ambient Comedy having gained something new — and that in itself is testament to how fantastic a production it is.

Molins’ performance to the Tesla hotline wherein he is forced to bargain his life against a Peugeot 308 with recent registration brilliantly serves to remind us of the many frustrating and mundane calls we have all had with hotlines. Through this the audience is reminded of the disturbing power and danger of leaving ethical decisions to machines, but the undertones of wit do not allow us to dwell on this question for too long.

Perhaps this is what makes Ambient Comedy so unique. Instead of producing straight art, Zerbst, Molins, and Maher have produced something between comedy and ambience: the grey side of theatre to match their invention of the grey side of the Internet. By paying attention to the ability of artfulness, design and wit to interact they reward their audiences with a one-off experience: laughter under discotheque strobe lights.

The only fault I can find with this production is that Pepsi is the main feature, and I am more of a Coke person.

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