Chasing the Lollyman – National Tour. Q, Queanbeyan, 30 August 2012. Review by Helen Musa, CityNews, 30 August 2012.
Chasing the Lollyman
It's a fair bet that most CityNews newsreaders have never seen much Aboriginal stand-up comedy. I know I haven’t.
Queensland actor, Mark Sheppard, originally from Mareeba, uses his fine baritone voice and his sense of mischief to celebrate Aboriginal humour.
He takes us into his confidence, teaches us some of his mob’s “Murri” lingo, (including the naughty words) tries out some call-and-response, picks on members of the audience (though I suspect some of those who got on stage were “plants”) and leads us through a glorious romp.
While Sheppard‘s persona is that of a Gay Murri, he plays many characters, with some wonderfully funny communal language. At the beginning, it seems like a lot of laid-back fun, with some hilarious episodes. One of the highlights is a scene where he speculates on what would happen if all the characters in Neighbours were Aboriginal. Then there is his own version of Masterchef, where fusion cooking becomes a metaphor for Reconciliation. He relives the habitual family practice of scaring each other almost to death to great effect. Recreating his childhood experiences, including the happy times when the “Lollyman” pays a visit, (these days he’d be told to “move on”) gives Sheppard the chance to criticise the increasing bureaucratic intervention in both Murri and wider Australian life.
He is no ingénue. Sheppard is an actor trained vocally and physically at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and his skill at manipulating the audience while raising a quizzical eyebrow, allows him to lead us exactly where he wants to. Towards the end of this short show, he insinuates a serious note, attacking the oppositional nature of Australian politics, the practical problems of Reconciliation, and urging the higher ideals of leaders who say things like “I Have a Dream”, “Yes we Can” and “We are Sorry”. It’s a feel-good show, lovingly executed.