Brisbane Festival: Squidboy

18 September 2014 | 2:08 pm | Helen Stringer

There are four words that come to mind after watching New Zealander Trygve Wakenshaw’s Squidboy: ‘What the?’ and ‘see it’. Ostensibly Squidboy is a surrealist clowning show loosely based on the premise that a fisherman is dreaming he’s a squid. Or a squid is dreaming he’s a fisherman; it’s not that important. Wakenshaw appears on stage clad in yellow boots, unbelievably skinny jeans and introduces himself as the squid-hating fisherman who’s having one hell of an existential crisis, before stripping to his Squidboy costume, busting out his elastic limbs and waltzing the audience through 60 minutes of barely controlled madness. 

There are few performers possessing the requisite charm to endear themselves to audiences so fully that within ten minutes of curtains up they have them imaginary-eating out of their hands. Wakenshaw is one of them: the audience is catching imaginary crisps in their mouths mere minutes into the show. He even feeds one audience member a cat. Wakenshaw draws you into his world, segueing between physical gags – mostly involving the questionable treatment of domestic animals. He immerses you so deeply that despite knowing there’s nothing to see you’ll be following his line of sight to see whatever he wants you to.

It’s weird. Nigh-on indescribable. And absolutely, unequivocally hilarious. It’ll have you, to borrow a phrase from Wakenshaw, “giggling like two ferrets being electrocuted”.

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Squidboy, Brisbane Festival, La Boite, to 20 Sep