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Aunty Donna - review

May 5, 2016 Theatre

The lights dimmed and in unison, four lads sitting in the front row of Q Theatre Loft placed plastic crates on their heads. Sketch comedy trio Aunty Donna simultaneously appeared on stage, and the audience members abruptly removed their crowns. Yes, reverence for this YouTube-famous Australian troupe is such that fans had sourced, conserved and transported milk crates to an inner-city theatre to enact the most timid, respectful display of fandom imaginable. My ignorance sent smoke signals (I had to google the reference post-show*): Was I to spend an hour immune to the in-jokes of a foreign subculture?

Read more: A chaotic interview with Aunty Donna

Thankfully not. Aunty Donna’s appeal – while not universal – is buoyed by astonishing, relentless dynamism concentrated into a tightly choreographed, precisely worded script. The content of that script may not be to everyone’s taste; punchlines often pivot around pantomimic voices and contrived idiosyncrasy, resulting in scenes that could be dismissed as “random”. But each sketch has a relatable starting point: the saccharine Masterchef opening titles are due a dark backstory, auctioneers really do sound silly, and people who use the word “boom” as an oral exclamation mark could do with a moment of introspection. The momentum never slows, and when the performers indulge us by corpsing, laughter is inescapable.

I saw pure joy on the faces of clear fans, heard howls and uncontrollable screeches and snort-laughs each time the three actors shuffled their way through the audience to select their next sketch participant. The fact I spent time watching other audience members suggests Aunty Donna didn’t totally succeed in drawing me in. You may well be different. Spend 20 minutes on their popular YouTube channel – if you like what you see, book a ticket and steal a milk crate.

*I believe the exact search term was: “Plastic box on head Aunty Donna”. It paid off:

Aunty Donna, until 7 May, Q Theatre. Book tickets.



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