Gilded Balloon (Venue 14)
There are some naughty boys at the Gilded Balloon, and they have come to dance, rap, bicker, and exorcise the devil (and reviewers).
Thoroughly established as Edinburgh Fringe regulars, Australian absurdist collective Aunty Donna’s latest show “Big Boys” is a rhythm track-cum-sketch comedy fever dream. Collective members Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zach Ruane are greeted with sensational applause in a sold-out Gilded Balloon debating hall. The following hour is a rapid fire collection of scenes that see the good boys do bad, bad things to each other.
The strengths of “Big Boys” is when Aunty Donna play with their clear personalities. Broden is the beleaguered elder statesman who can’t leave the stage without Zach, the hapless shmuck being preyed upon by Mark, the psychopathic Italian, who fantasizes about crawling inside Zach’s body, vore style. In their own words, they are different and yet the same.
Peculiarly, there are points where “Big Boys” does not lean into this reliable foundation. Rather, the rapidity of the music cues and scenes does, at points, dull the troupes personalities in favour of a quick punchline. This is an appropriate adaptation to the larger venue capacity, and yet Aunty Donna the rockstars will always pale to Aunty Donna the bad boys.
Despite this, there are moments of magic. The extended sequences in which the boys re-enact a 1950s Italian VHS El Tigre, or when Zach performers the hysterical mother of Broden and Mark, are blisteringly funny. Chris, the DJ and self-titled Drum Boy, receives rapturous applause on delivery of his only line; perhaps he will be the 2017 Fringe Breakout Star?
Aunty Donna are a reliable source of hilarious absurdism, and a top-notch night out. Someone keep an eye on these boys, they are only going to get bigger.