You can’t help but feel bad for Frank Woodley, and that’s the show. I, Woodley is the story of a man who’s struggling to keep his life and sanity in check. The entire premise is his misadventures leading up to opening night. It’s a sweet show, and Woodley’s attention to confetti is parallel to no one.
Woodley has this way of bringing characters to life. He contorts his body ever so slightly and manages to convey a completely different person, or parrot. The show has really high production values; Woodley’s lighting and music cues are tight. The overhead fog machine may be overkill, but it’s clear that he’s been doing this for a long time and even though things don’t always go as planned, he knows how to roll with the punches.
I, Woodley is at it’s strongest when Woodley stops to ask questions to the crowd that then feed back into his performance. The show is endearing and clever when everything ties back into itself and you go ‘ah that’s what that was’. The audience loves being a part of the show, and instead of talking at them, Woodley talks to them, which gives his performance that personal touch.
All this aside, there were certainly moments of frustration, especially if you’re more familiar with traditional stand up. In the middle of the show there is slapstick, physical buffoonery that just won’t end. You hope it will but he just keeps going. Instead of I, Woodley you just think Why, Woodley. It’s hard to sit though that incredibly long and unnecessary bit, but when he finally stops you can’t help but cheer. Whether it’s a testament to his performance or because he finally just stopped, that’s open to interpretation. He slides back into more spoken comedy and there is minimal resentment for the incredible waste of time that just occurred.
Aside from that, the show is enjoyable, there’s a beginning middle and an end, clear themes and consistency. It’s well structured and you can always tell how far through the show you are by how many posters have been thrown away. If you’re a fan of Frank Woodley, slapstick or general silliness, I, Woodley is a great night out.
I, Woodley is on at the Arts Centre until 16 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available online or at the venue.