Fringe review: Creepy Boys
Blisteringly anarchic and devilishly clever, Creepy Boys would like you to attend a birthday party for some very horny twin teenage brothers in a yurt. ★★★★★
'Creepy Boys' serves up an electrifying hour of metatheatrical anarchy. Photo: Dan Norman Photography
Nudity is not an uncommon phenomenon in many late-night shows at the Adelaide Fringe. However, I had never attended a performance in which two audience members spontaneously showed their bums amid a packed yurt. That is, until last night.
Creepy Boys is the latest offering from award-winning Canadian queer theatre company Scantily Glad Theatre, which brought us the 2021 Adelaide Fringe best-theatre-award-winning show Something in the Water. It features consummate performers Sam Kruger and SE Grummett in an electrifying hour of metatheatrical anarchy that has at heart a resonant truth for many of us: it sucks (or sucked) being young – but so does growing up.
We are invited to a surprise thirteenth birthday party for identical twin boys, and on arrival are instantly swept up in a cavalcade of party games, sing-alongs to half-remembered angsty 2000s hits, and stories from their colourful lives. A notable party-pooper, and omnipotent voice from above, is “Sharon”, the babysitter who occasionally intervenes to stop them having too much fun.
And then, at a moment’s notice, we are swept up in a hilarious flashback to the boys’ infancy – complete with non-sequitur projectile vomiting – and then wrenched forward to depictions of their imagined futures.
Sam Kruger and SE Grummett are the Creepy Boys. Photo: Dan Norman Photography
Beneath the surreal and outrageous humour in Creepy Boys is a welcome ironic perspective on the current wave of nostalgia among millennials for the ’90s and early 2000s, emphasising a subterranean existential angst. These twin boys, left alone on their own birthday party (even their parents didn’t come), attempt to amuse themselves with playing as Willem Dafoe or dancing to “the sexy song”, but with increasing desperation are unable to fill the void of loneliness and dissatisfaction with themselves.
Even as they live out their imagined ideal futures, they bicker and attempt to direct each other’s stories to be “less depressing”, and they find their ultimate desires hollow and unfulfilling.
It is as if Grummett and Kruger summon these spirits of cultural artefacts and imagined future selves from their graves (with the occasional satanic ritual) in front of our eyes but are unable to fully embrace or spurn them, leaving the pair unsatisfied. Queer themes are central to Creepy Boys, as the two struggle to define themselves in their pubescent states, and adopt highly gendered tropes to depict their stories.
Pochinko clowning, which merges the pedagogy of French performer/coach Jacques Lecoq and Canadian First Nations performance practice, permeates this show. Grummett and Kruger, by somehow being so much larger than life, evoke a profound pathos and catharsis. They are compelling, endless in stamina, and have an unbridled confidence in the material that makes them a pleasure to watch. The performers also actively engage with their audience, with the surprise trouser-dropping by a pair in the back row prompted by a game of truth-or-dare.
In the end, brothers forgive, but not before quite a lot of spilled milk, bare bums, balloons, and botched satanic rituals. What more could you ask for?
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