The premise seems ridiculous, a tiny man that lives within another man’s beard? But yet, The Ballad of Frank Allen manages to be highly entertaining, laughter inducing hilarious and even touchingly emotional throughout.
From the beginning the show is vaguely bizarre, both actors (a two man show) Shane Adamczak and St John Cowcher poised and waiting as the audience trails in. Adamczak plays the role of Frank, a janitor within a scientific facility that specialises in…miniaturisations, while Cowcher plays opposite as the consistently job changing slack Al.
The story begins when Frank manages to activate one of the machines within the facility, leaving him at a miniscule size and somehow within Al’s beard. As the plucky hero of the tale, he meets this challenge head one and the audience is treated to a range of truly funny scenes in which Frank learns to train Al to do the right things from within his beard.
The entire production felt almost like an 80’s sci-fi romp (including the British accented villain) – reminiscent most of the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Adamczak follows this cue, his onstage presence felt vaguely like we were seeing Rick Moranis performing before us. In comparison, Cowcher handles the slacker role brilliantly; his love-addled fumbling’s drawing strong laughter from the crowd that continued long after he has finished the bit.
It is hard to believe that this bizarre (but so good) production could have worked as well without Adamczak or Cowcher, both move in sync and the practice and time they must have put in before hand shows. Both manage to slip in and out of different characters at ease, on occasions playing multiple at a time. The rare moments throughout where they seemed to break character for a moment due to restrained laughter simply added to the performance, only making the audience chuckle harder.
The Ballad of Frank Allen is not your conventional comedy festival performance, however, it would truly be a shame to miss out on this bizarre, yet highly hilarious production.
The Ballad of Frank Allen is showing at The Butterfly Club as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 3rd to 9th. Tickets can be purchased here.