Asher Treleaven, Cellar Door *1/2 (Bosco Theatre until Saturday, March 15, 2008)

March 11, 2008

Asher Treleaven named his show “cellar door” because it is one of the most beautiful phrases in English, according to JRR Tolkien. I know the show’s title is an ironic device, but I can’t help but think, what a waste!

The premise of this show is that there is comedy to be had by regurgitating excerpts from trashy literature – Mills and Boon, autobiographies and inept self-help guides. And that premise is sound except for the way it is played in this show.

Unfortunately, Treleaven still has a lot of work to do to develop this show. The presentation is monotonous, unimaginative and just too obvious. As an audience, we are expecting Treleaven, as the comedian, to take this base material and be creative with it, show us something new and unexpected, not just read a few passages verbatim with little other than vacant asides to the audience, begging for some polite laughter.

The foundation is here for an entertaining show but it is nobbled by this under-development and an array of simply silly, if not, embarrassing physical gags, some recycled directly from other performers like the mind powers gag of acting as if you have mind control powers to open automatic doors – I have lost count of how many times I have seen this material circulate on the internet over the last few years. There is also too much time wasted with a routine based on the audience being asked to select entrance music from the Top Gun soundtrack.
I know this review is sound terribly negative, and I note tonight’s performance was the first of this show, but I believe this show has great potential and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops over time. All it needs, perhaps, is a director to give Treleaven some perspective and critical feedback. Perhaps, if we use cellar door imagery, it will mature with age and some character will develop. On the character note, there was a confusing persona adopted by Treleaven – part uber-camp, part Judith Lucy, part eccentric, part boy-next-door. I look forward to him finding his own style too.
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