A Muse - Reviewed by Matt Jaden Carroll | Regional News Connecting Wellington

A Muse

Created by: Jak Darling

Directed by: Alia Marshall

Cavern Club, 22nd May 2024

Reviewed by: Matt Jaden Carroll

Jak Darling, in their NZ International Comedy Festival debut, is looking for a muse. Usually this might be an inspiring person, but inspiration can come from many intangible places. Recognising this, Darling searches through uproarious experiences, twisted perspectives, and romantically absurd flights of imagination. Will any of these become the elusive muse?

When Darling walks on stage, I’m gobsmacked by their instantly iconic dress. It has such power that it makes me, someone with no drive to escape from pants and a shirt, feel a twinge of envy. They start to remove the dress, but require help from a cardboard cutout of a pigeon, creating a flirtatiously narrated tryst. This moment unmistakably shows how they combine sensuality with delightfully vulgar silliness.

Darling feels commandingly irreverent – we’re going to be silly. Deal with it. This unapologetic attitude is frequently explored through their experiences of queerness. In one story, they take irritation and wrap it in charm, playfully mocking the neuroticisms of an ‘ally’ who is only supportive in a self-serving manner.

A dizzying performer, their tone-shuffling artistry traverses stand-up, theatre, poetry, and music. Poetry transforms a Wellington bus trip into a picturesque Venetian tale full of romance, intrigue, and an overwhelming number of puns. Darling showcases puppetry with an ‘environmental guilt’-gobbling turtle, skilfully timed against an array of sound effects aided by Sanjay Parbhu. Quaint ukulele strumming is paired with total debauchery.

It’s barely noticed, but when Darling fails to reach a mic stand, they briefly turn it into a heightened drama. Even when caught off guard, they maintain their attitude of turning struggles into confidence, playfulness, and glamour. Their comedy seems to encapsulate their true character, and it creates a cohesiveness that makes the whole show feel that much more compelling.

Ultimately, Darling’s approach to comedy is addictive and highly amusing. It feels wrong to reveal the muse that they discover, but through their bold example, I have discovered a muse in Jak Darling.

View more reviews:
« Click here