Review: HQ, Abbey Street

HQ, Abbey Street
By Gerry Colgan The Irish Times

The fun in watching a ventriloquist used to be in not watching the twitching of his lips as he got the dummies to talk. Voice-throwing and all that optical illusion stuff usually made for an amusing act sandwiched into a variety show.

No more. American David Strassman doesn't move his lips, and his dummies can have a multi-dimensional chat all around thim. What's more, they can get around without his help so that, by the end of his show, he seems to be virtually redundant. And this is a complete show, based on his extraordinary skills and inventions alone.

He is also a razor-sharp comedian, and his dummies convulse the audience with hip, clever dialogue. The main one is Chuck, a foul-mouthed teenage monster who intimidates the audience and vomits on stage; like, forget old-time music hall. Teddy, a gentle bear having a bad fur day, is his natural prey, although not incapable of hitting back. Others to turn up are an ambitious beaver who does terrific impersonations, a pizza-eating alien, a predatory baby and a singing trio of monsters.

There is a motif of Chuck selling his soul to the devil (which made me look speculatively at Mr. Strassman) in order to become a real boy. It ends with a gang of dummies onstage, talking and moving in independent mode, while their creator seems to have been robotised; a little scary, like what's going on here? But I jest, I think; this is mirth-inducing performance of extraordinary and bewildering brilliance.

Back To Reviews