Apr 27, 2016 Theatre
It’s been 20 years since Rhys Darby and Grant Lobban formed sketch comedy/music duo Rhysently Granted and, as we are told from the outset they struggled to find their audience in early-90s Christchurch.
Were they ahead of their time? Darby and Lobban are back together to find out.
In the intervening years, Darby, by way of Flight of the Conchords, has become something of a household name. Lobban meanwhile has enjoyed a quieter life on the New Zealand comedy circuit. Ostensibly a nostalgia act, the two trade on a likable back and forth as they retrace the path that brought them here.
Unfortunately, however, the show wants for spontaneity. Musical numbers have not been updated and pre-filmed video interludes quickly start to feel like padding. There’s a sense that more could have been done with an hour long show.
The set is quickly dated by gags that border on transphobic, homophobic, ableist and – in the case of a particularly strange one about an Indian man self-immolating – a bit racist.
What’s more, a few poorly gauged jokes reveal Darby and Lobban’s ages in a way they perhaps had not intended. Mere asides they may be, the set is quickly dated by gags that border on transphobic, homophobic, ableist and – in the case of a particularly strange one about an Indian man self-immolating – a bit racist.
There is no denying Darby is a born performer. With a knack for physical comedy and improvised sound effects – a particularly effective sketch involves an invisible ping-pong ball and some well timed tongue clicks – the innocence and charm that propelled him to stardom is evident here.
But 20 years is a long time, and the boys are no longer boys. With their natural charm in tact, they need not rely solely on old material to get by. They may not have been ahead of their time back then, but Rhysently Granted should be more than capable of catching up.
Rhysently Granted, May 26-30, Rangatira at Q Theatre. Book tickets.