Scotland has been very lucky to play host to the Men with Coconuts for the past half-decade; Australia is luckier still to finally have them this Fringe. Clearly (and justifiably) feeling ‘tour-ready’, these charming goofs have finessed their format and play to a very busy house at the National Wine Centre.
If you’ve ever been to an improv show before, not much will surprise you here. Audience suggestions, stupid games, not the same show twice, yada yada. They keep a lean hour with only a few skits, the majority taken up by their show-stealing ‘Twenty Minute Musical’ finale, but this displays their ability to riff (and riff deep) on the absurd scenes offered by the audience. Tonight we see Whitney Houston trying to figure out the new Harry Potter film she’s starring in, a reenactment of a couple’s first date, and a musical entitled Bogans on Rundle Mall. Pretty standard, then.
The silent star of the show is Colin Bramwell on keyboard (whose own show Umbrella Man also plays this Fringe), wittily soundtracking each scene with aplomb. Steve Worsley, Charles Hindley and Will ‘MC Hammersmith’ Naameh act with gleeful spontaneity, leaning into missteps and weaponising the inevitable chaos of unplanned dialogue. Considering the fundamental risks of improvisation, it’s a slick and competent performance.
Even the musical – a style cornered by other specialised productions like Baby Wants Candy or UK’s Olivier Award-winning Showstopper! – is remarkably impressive nonsense. Giving the gift of a unique show every night is hard to do well, but these Men with Coconuts know exactly what they’re doing.