Bonus Stage (30.03.2016)
In an alley off a busy Redfern street there is a wooden door that could easily be overlooked, mistaken for a wall, if not for the sign above it, emblazoned; giantDWARF. Giant Dwarf Theatre is an artsy space that hosts many a great comedy performance; the one in question herein is the monthly live video-game talk show that is Bonus Stage. I had the pleasure of attending the March instalment of the show and [spoiler alert] pleasurable it was.
As the patrons take their seats and the house light fades, in-house band Triforce, led by The Axis of Awesome’s Benny Davis, introduces us to Carlo Ritchie, the host and driving force of the show. Breaking into a stand-up routine, Carlo putts par for the course of talk show host, but with material inspired by the unsettling reality of Pokemon battles, it’s clear from the onset that this show is not the same as any late-night talk show programme, despite the similar formula.
Carlo’s co-hosts Ben O’Brien and Rae Johnston are introduced and each deliver their own segments, exploring topics such as the questionable children’s television adaptation of Super Mario Bros., the future of VR as envisioned by columnists from a generation past, and generally poking fun at the ridiculous. The melding of show-and-tell presentation with genuine conversation and ad-lib riffing is riveting to bear witness to, and endlessly amusing.
Following video game correspondent Barnie’s breakdown of the happenings inside the world of games – a strong display of his ability to remain in character while reporting ludicrous – the first guest of the night is welcomed; Good Game Pocket’s Nich Richardson. While this is his debut with Bonus Stage, Nich’s personality instantly meshes with those of his hosts. The group discuss his role on Good Game Pocket, his past with The Roast, and general video game nonsense. Lots of people laugh lots.
Performer Sonya van Der Beak brings us to tears of shocked laughter with dead-serious intensity as she explores the art of acting. This physical comedy stuns most of the patrons, hosts and in-house band with utter incredulity; a highlight of the night, definitely.
The second guest is introduced, famed cosplay artist and game producer Eve Beauregarde. Just as Nich had before her, Eve immediately lands into an engaging conversation with her hosts, a discussion on her history in cosplay and her relatively new role as producer with Hammerfall Games. Her knowledge and passion for both industries are apparent, and hilarity ensues.
The lesser-known brother of Mario and Luigi, Horatio makes an appearance to present a challenge: guess the video game by deciphering cryptic haikus, some more so than others. This challenge is essentially another opportunity for light-hearted laughs about video games, as simple – and effective – as that.
From start to finish, Benny Davis and Triforce smoothly support the show with tunes, covering any dead air during cross-over periods, and unlike the bands on most live talk shows are actually incorporated seamlessly into the conversation throughout the night.
I have been pleasantly surprised by Bonus Stage. Being previously unfamiliar with the personalities powering the show, – because I have lived with my head in the sand – I was rocked by the professionalism and creativity of the night. Diverse and consistently engaging, Bonus Stage was a fantastic night out.
The only hiccup throughout the night was a technical issue with the audio system that prevented the screening of an Insert Coin skit – which I watched on the train ride home. As far as technical issues go, this was a minor incident that the team quickly recovered from with charm.
Patrons also had access to playable indie games in the theatre, Super Adventure Pals and Wildfire, providing a nice spot to sit, chat and cooldown after the show while enjoying the common thread between, I’d wager to guess, everybody in the room.
Bonus Stage will next be hosting its next show on April 27th at Giant Dwarf Theatre, with guest Jordan Raskopoulos from Axis of Awesome. Do recommend for anyone who likes video games and to laugh. You should go, and you should take all of your friends.
Select Start Media were kindly offered complimentary entry to Bonus Stage by Big Head Mode. I bought a ticket anyway, because you have to support what you want to exist in the world, and that’s a damned fact.