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May Contain Traces of Reading - Review

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Event: -
Comedy as you've never heard it before
Imagine a stand-up comedy show - where there's no talking! Difficult, right? Well, that's what you've got in May Contain Traces of Reading, which is currently playing in Melbourne. Victorian-based performer Mitchell E Roberts takes centre stage in this comedy show with a difference.

May Contain Traces of Reading - Theatre Review
Mitchell E Roberts performs a silent stand-up comedy show in May Contain Traces of Reading (image supplied)


Through Roberts' alter ego, Robert Mitchell, and with a heavy reliance on large printed flash cards, the audience is taken through a hilarious and highly entertaining one-hour show.

Mitchell, we learn, took a vow of silence as a teenager, and while this has led to some awkward social situations, he was determined that it would not deter him in his quest to become a stand-up comedian.

But how do you build in the key elements of stand-up without talking? Through the extremely clever use of props, a bit of audience participation, and support from a somewhat wayward 'computer' projecting onto a screen.

The show is carefully sequenced, with a folder of cards for each segment. It's clear a huge amount of preparation has gone into the show. There is a significant risk of something going wrong - but it doesn't. The show is executed to perfection, the timing brilliant.

May Contain Traces of Reading - Theatre Review
Roberts delivers his comedy with a little help from some large flash cards. (Writer's image.)


You might also wonder if it's possible for a comedian to achieve audience interaction without talking to them. Well, it is, and Roberts does it most effectively. Heckling is not only tolerated, but it's also encouraged. And yes, there's a folder for cutting or witty comebacks too.

Drawing perhaps on his educational background (Roberts has a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre)), Roberts adds a cabaret element to the show through a song and dance sequence, and even an audience sing-along.

May Contain Traces of Reading - Theatre Review
Roberts channels his inner Beyonce. (Writer's image.)


This is surely one of the cleverest, most original concept shows I've seen in a long time. Is genius too strong a word? Hmmmm. All I can say is I laughed and laughed. Brilliant! ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The only thing Roberts needs to make this an even better show is a bigger audience. And that's where you come in!

May Contain Traces of Reading plays at The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne at 7.00pm each night until Saturday 1st June.

Tickets are $35 full, $31 concession. Click here to buy your tickets online, or call The Butterfly Club on (03) 9663 8107.
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Why? See a fresh take on stand-up comedy in this hilarious one-hour show
When: 7pm each night until Saturday 1st June
Phone: (03) 9663 8107
Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place (off Little Collins Street), Melbourne
Cost: $35 full, $31 concession
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