Something of an idiot’s guide as to what never to do on stage in front of an audience, Amateur Hour! is a flippant and fun production in which we see Jemma Kahn and Glen Biderman Pam stretching their mettle in a direction that takes the mickey out of rank stage amateurs with almost cruel abandon. It’s really funny.
From the girl doing a mysterious esoteric dance in which she mistakenly unravels the wrong bandage that reveals her naked breasts rather than her face, to the stand up comic with his fly down and his confidence left at home, to the puppet who loses his head by chance, and the mime who gets an insufferable urge to call her mom, mid show, this is a fabulous spoof of a show, which ends all too soon.
Featuring 12 distinct acts, the work blends real ‘ag shame!’ cringeworthy moments with the breaking of simple rules that can reduce a show with serious (read self-indulgent) intent into something so helplessly hilarious that you laugh until you cry. While one or two of the skits are slightly incomprehensible, the bulk are centred on a performer’s inability to grasp the ‘this is it!’ moment where you can’t come back and say ‘sorry, I did that wrong, let me try again.’
It’s a show that would not benefit from any narrative spine, but given the skill of the production team, never teeters into the believably amateur. It holds together with an engaging tightness and a laugh a second sense of acumen. This ain’t Shakespeare (though he does appear in the funniest of circumstances) and you don’t need to be on high intellectual alert to enjoy it: Quite overwhelmingly, it’s a tonic all round.
Amateur Hour! is written by Gwydion Beynon and directed by John Trengrove. It features Glen Biderman Pam and Jemma Kahn and performs at POP Arts in the Maboneng Precinct, downtown Johannesburg until August 10.