Juan Vesuvius is back. Calypso Nights: Juan, Two? is the second installment in the Venezuelan DJ’s mission to heal the world with soca tracks (sounds of the Caribbean). “You like?”, he often asks. Sadly I don’t.
Part dance party host, part modern clown, Barnie Duncan, the Kiwi behind the flamenco shirt-wearing Juan Vesuvius, takes us on a journey to the roots of Caribbean music. It’s an absurd show with crackpot jokes and references to bananas telling the geography and history of the Caribbean, which sadly fails to hit the mark.
Some of the audience seem to like it though, and are willing to get involved in some audience participation, getting up on stage, wearing LP covers as masks, and acting out different musical instruments playing in a band or co-operating in Vesuvius’ self-indulgent crowd surf at the end. Sadly, quite a few of the audience had left by then so he only gets halfway!
There’s some good DJ-ing on the 1s and 2s (turntables) as he shares a mash-up of songs, putting together Wham and Jazz to make “Wazz” and Abba and the music of the Middle East to make “Abbalibaba”, but the jokes and cultural observations are short-lived and never fully make the point that is intended.
They say that comedy is subjective and one man’s meat is another man’s poison. This show is a bit like that. Vesuvius may be billed as having won a Skinny Magazine Fringe Genius Award last year for Calypso Nights, but that genius is hard for the uninitiated to recognise in this year’s show.