If you thought 2020, with its Trump rallies and Instagram wellness influencers, was the golden age of narcissism, have you heard of the baroque?
Four hundred years ago, lacy leggings, bouffant wigs, harpsichords and antechambers? Well, if you’ve forgotten, Looney Tunes cartoon rendered into flesh Oliver Nilsson will take you back there in the fourth-wall-breaking comedy 'The Baroque'.
FRANK. Theatre’s 'The Baroque', directed by Britt Plummer, is an introduction to Oliver Nilsson’s narcissistic dandy, Syphilis Von Hamstring. Syphilis is a hybrid of Mr Bean and Blackadder The Third, part Elmer Fudd and Buggs Bunny from seminal cartoon 'What’s Opera, Doc?' Oliver has instant access to a seemingly infinite funny face library and can contort his putty face in a micro-second.
Under the command of Director Britt Plummer, though, this is more than a slapstick gag fest. Like a recently departed US president, Syphilis wants, nay demands a grand entrance and sycophantic farewell: roses, shrieks, cheers, fainting, the endless honking of his own horn. Nothing can compare to his own reflection, though; nothing, except Gloria, his lost love, his departed narcissistic supply. 'The Baroque' follows his quest to win her back, or else conquer new land and new Glorias.
Oliver, known to Adelaide audiences from his role in the Fringe favourite trio The Latebloomers, is impossible to despise, while nobody could possibly want to wake up one morning with Syphilis, so 'The Baroque' is a love-hate relationship.
Like a narcissist, 'The Baroque' is a show that can be enjoyed simply at a superficial level; unlike a narcissist, though, there is substance beneath the surface layers.