Solo shows are a mammoth task to undertake, especially if the concept involves multiple characters and a strong sense of narration and connectivity. Ben Russell, once again, shows his expertise in The Pilot, a show bringing together the exploits, memories, and internal processes of both crew and passengers on-board a chaotic flight across the Atlantic.
Russell is clearly having fun with this festival’s contribution, and generates humour so instinctively that it is a delight to watch. The show is full of offbeat characters, many with their own regrets and misfortunes, and many others discovering that their moment is in the present. A mime sequence really brings the appreciation of the crowd to a peak through its sheer commitment and pace, and the wordplay surrounding an unsolved case sets up the absurdity to a level that induces laughter like a waterfall effect. Russell knows how to write a strong set-piece, dot it with comically marinated dialogue, and then execute the whole affair with brilliant character play and commitment.
In a similar vein to ‘The Tokyo Hotel’, Russell utilises the use of a prop to help create transitions and characters in a very clever fashion – a wheeled rail adorned with curtains that at one point becomes the robes worn by a judge.
If one wishes to see why Russell does so well in the solo arena of the festival circuit, then The Pilot provides a wonderfully funny journey that brings out the varied qualities of a performer earning their well-deserved reputation.
Corey M. Glamuzina is a Melbourne-based actor, writer, improvisor and comedian with an avid involvement in the art of theatre and film.
Ben Russell – The Pilot runs from the 30th of March to the 23rd of April, (No shows Mondays), 6pm (50mins) at The Town Hall Lunch Room. Sunday shows are at 5pm. Purchase tickets now.
The venue is accessible.