Lawrence Mooney, Arthur’s Bar

Melbourne’s ‘underrated gem’, Lawrence Mooney, returns for a superb meditation on the mundane and joyous aspects of Australian suburbia. Flanked by faux-majestic epic narration, Mooney’s show is essentially a journey through his life, peppered with observations about some of the more bizarre aspects of The Way We Lived Then.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Mooney’s stage persona is its weather-beaten warmth. Successfully casting himself as a kind of Aussie Everyman, Mooney primes us to laugh at the past. Whether he’s talking about the cartoonish brutalities of the Bayswater Pub or the sexual overtones of the Chico Roll girl in the typical 1970s–80s fish-and-chip shop, Mooney manages to poke gentle fun at Australiana while also revealing a wide streak of affection for it. Taken together with Damian Callinan’s Robinson Crusoe show, Lawrence of Suburbia is a great example of comedy routine as eccentric historical document.

Tour guide to a bygone age, Mooney is fully capable of weaving mundane-sounding material into gold. (His vision of an old folks’ home circa 2040, for example, had me gasping for air.) Seen through Mooney’s wry eyes, suburbia becomes a deeply strange place. Lawrence of Suburbia is something like an anti-Blue Velvet – its host lifts the lid on Australian suburbia to reveal its hilarious underbelly. This is a deeply rewarding show from a comedian who’s shaping up well. With many lesser comics being internationally feted, maybe it’s time for Mooney to stake his claim offshore.  TR

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