Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The Butterfly Club
Benn Bennett is a performer who looks so comfortable in front of a sold out Butterfly Club it's hard to believe this is his first ever headline show. Already given a slot at next year's Comedy Festival, Bennett's wonderfully expressive voice and face, his musical ability, atypical subject matter and the tight narrative connection between them really impresses and makes him a great performer; something the crowd heartily affirm tonight. The wonderfully iconic Butterfly Club promotes an intimacy that really serves the warmth of Bennett's delivery and intimacy of his material well. Presented as part lecture, part holiday story, and part surreal musical, Bennett's show The Baltic State is held together by his love of his subject matter and a selfless delivery which allows him to slip between a multitude of musically-linked characters.
Beginning with an authoritative introduction in Russian, he removes his fez, pushes on the reading glasses and begins his map-notated journey from Estonia, through Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine among other countries through to Croatia, each stop providing a musical cue, a new character and story to set it. It's the quality of songs that really allow Bennett to stand out from other musical comedians, so unlike any other performer's as they are. Variously adding elements of Euro-Disco, traditional Caucasian, ambient and classical to flesh out his journey, Bennett is equally adept at each and this combined with his genuine and genuinely funny cultural insights and experiences make for a fantastic show.
Songs like Cinderella's Booties, Tallulah Bankhead, his Croatian version of Tomorrow from the musical Annie - Sutra, and his version of Kate Bush's Babooshka are all stand out songs and show an inspired use of his Roland Fantom X7 and willingness to draw on various styles, languages and accents to enhance his show. Perhaps there could be a knock on effect from Borat sparking people's interest in this part of the world as being ripe for comedic exploration, though Baron-Cohen could never be this warm. Bennett has this base well and truly covered in his uniquely charming way. Na zdorovje!