It begins with Irishman “Paddy the Plank” (Patrick McCullagh) welcoming the audience to his smoky, circa-1930 speakeasy bar in Chicago with a taste of bad bootlegged whisky, before glamorous “Silver Pipes Sid” (Adelaide cabaret singer Sidonie Henbest) launches into the first song of the evening.
When ensues is an 80-minute performance featuring acrobatics, singing, juggling, magic and comedy, all linked via a loose story based around a dodgy detective trying to shut down Paddy’s illegal operation.
Trilby-wearing, toy-gun-totting Tim Motley is super suave and deliciously droll as the “jaded private dick” Dirk Darrow, the embodiment of the iconic film noir detective and a magician to boot. He’s so cool he even eats razor blades.
Another highlight is the hunchback clown, who wins over the audience with routines involving ping-pong balls, balloons, darts, a crossbow and one hapless chap from the crowd.
The acrobatic acts – including one balancing routine involving a large number of cocktail glasses – are also impressive, although not quite as slick as some you will see during Fringe.
Presented by Australian company Motley & Mac, Prohibition is a fun show with plenty of variety – in fact, perhaps a little too much variety. While most audience members seemed to enjoy themselves, there were times when engagement levels fell.
Trimming some of the routines and reducing the overall length of the performance by 10 minutes would likely result in a much tighter show. Eighty minutes is just too long to sit on a wooden bench in a tent on a coolish evening, never mind when it’s hot.
Prohibition is being presented in The Speakeasy, Gluttony, until February 28.