Max Attwood and Paul Culliver burst on to stage as audience members settle into rows of mismatched dining room chairs and well-loved couches. The tiny platform is bare except for an expectant microphone stand; the loft-style top floor of FAD gallery makes for an intimate venue. One may be reminded of childhood concerts staged in the lounge room. If your family was anything like mine, you would have ushered mum, dad and the dog to their seats before your younger brother performed scenes lifted from Faulty Towers or pretended to be Mozart dressed in his bathrobe. Ok maybe that was just my family. Nevertheless, Paul and Max or Max and Paul, make you feel right at home as they explain that as well as ushering you in, they will also take turns playing sound tech as each does their 25 minute routine. Eyes forward now, they insist, as not to ruin the illusion.
Paul Culliver prefaces his performance with an apology: he’s not well, but the show must go on. With ‘bottley’ close at hand — a Coles brand bottle of water he manages to make a running joke out of as he sips frequently from it — he reminisces about his recent trip to the Adelaide Fringe Festival and his stay with a bumbling group of magicians. From why magicians shouldn’t be trusted with Sharpies, Culliver moves into the fickle world of dating. Although the topic is well-trodden comedy ground, Culliver’s comedic portrayal of himself as cocky stud is clever and the biggest laughs arise when he claims he’s really been doing society a favour by remaining single for so long. His sexuality, questioned not by him but everyone he knows, serves as a great introduction to some zany anecdotes and an exclusive ‘pause’ when he realises he’s running ahead of time are little touches that keep the set fresh. It’s only a shame that Culliver was sick as it seemed to drain a lot of energy out of the performance. However, flushed face and glassy eyes aside, it was still a fine effort from a promising young performer who’d be well-worth seen again when he’s back on top form.
There’s a palpable change of mood as Max Attwood launches into the etymology of his name. Attwood is the self-deprecating nerd to Culliver’s premeditated charmer and the contrast is very much enjoyed by the crowd. His experience at the Adelaide Fringe Festival is also covered but centres on his 12 hour bus ride, a consequent result of his ‘fear of everything’ and why he’d take a psychotic dictator to a desert island elicits much delight from the audience. Attwood’s humour is punchy, measured and revels in his eccentricities — if he could make every joke about a mid 90s video game, he would. Luckily for those not so attuned with gaming, Attwood manages to cover everything from homesick pandas at Adelaide Zoo to the logistics of living in a share house with comedic flair and a vividness that enthrals the ‘attractive and intelligent audience’ — as Attwood is quick to point out.
Max Attwood and Paul Culliver In No Particular Order offers contrasting sets that are great starting point for two young comedic talents. However, it was evident in their introduction that they feed off each other’s humour and a paired performance in future could be a hilarious endeavour.
Words: Tahlia Anderson