FRINGEWORLD: Ben Russell in the Tokyo Hotel (4.5 stars)

Review by Kieran Eaton.

Ben Russell in the Tokyo Hotel is a fictional showcase of a multitude of characters. Russell explores these characters in his solo show with the basis that they live in this old school hotel, where all sorts of crazy shenanigans occur. When I say crazy: I mean CRAZY – it’s such a surreal world.

The set is simple. A solitary door in the middle of the stage. This is where Russell seamlessly transforms   into the multitude of different characters. He showcases his imaginative acting skills using minimal props to convey different environments. Russell is so self-aware, even when he messes up the rapid changing of accents and characters he just gets more laughs. Even his facial expressions attract laughter.

The Tokyo Hotel appears to be one of those places that dodgy things just happen in. Russell demonstrates an extensive knowledge of 1950s B movies – all of his characters could have just walked off the set! This theatrical piece is artistically styled to perfection. From a film noir narrator to a piano-playing European, Russel does it all. He has the audience in the palm of his hands with his mad ramblings, off-beat and, at times off the cuff humour. Russel delights in the absurd.

What makes this show work is that Russell plays to his strengths. It is a clever concoction of weirdness and quirks – it may make you question why you are laughing, but you will laugh. Ben Russell in the Tokyo Hotel  epitomises Fringeworld frivolity –   get your tickets before they sell out!

When: 23 – 30 Jan (9:30pm)
Where: The Blue Room Theatre
Tickets: $18 to $20
Info: Duration 50 mins, medium rating, recommended 15+