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comedy review: frank woodley and simon yates’ ‘inside’

inside 2

Frank Woodley and Simon Yates in ‘Inside’
Image courtesy of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival


Inside is a captivating and bizarre show by Frank Woodley and acrobat/physical comedian Simon Yates. Performed in the Famous Spiegeltent as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Inside is a must-see for those looking some something out-there this comedy season. It is edgy and often nonsensical, reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist plays.

Woodley’s physical visual comedy is well paired with Yates’ acrobatic prowess. The pair manages to turn a dystopian scenario into a darkly comedic experience.

Inside is a show about two brothers, Viktor and Vissilli. They are captives of an unnamed disembodied head in a prison-like environment. The play follows their psychological journey as prisoners, swinging (literally) between bleak complacency, hope, distress, and beautiful madness.

The metaphysical nature of the performance is seemingly at odds with the madcap physical energy of Woodley and Yates, but it is ultimately a touching experience. The dialogue is poetic, beneath the unexplained Russian accents.

The show itself is a bit slow to get moving. The beginning scenes are disjointed, so be prepared to wait a bit for a plot to kick in. Once it does, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat. The hour flies by, and the end is both shocking and charming.

Fans of Lano and Woodley be warned, this is a far stranger and (I think) more intelligent style of comedy. If anything, it feels odd seeing it in the Comedy Festival. It wouldn’t be out of place next door at the Melbourne Theatre Centre.

While the Famous Spiegeltent is a fantastic setting, it isn’t the best venue for this form of comedy because the tent poles can block some of the action. I definitely recommend seeing Inside, but get there at least half an hour early to secure seats on the floor, rather than the booths. Woodley’s incredible face deserves front and centre viewing.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is running until April 21. ‘Inside‘ is showing at the Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne: Tues-Sat 7PM, Sun 6pm.

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