Dandyman is wonderfully quirky, mischievous and delightful. With just a pocketful of straws, a suitcase, a newspaper and a bucketful of charm, Daniel Oldaker breathes new life into Vaudevillian circus. It is a return to the classics of physical theatre — a goofy face, juggling balls and a little comedic misdirection — performed so masterfully that my adult seen-it-all cynicism quickly gave way to the marvel and excitement of my inner six-year-old. And as I sat reflecting on how utterly I was enjoying this nostalgic throwback to the childlike and innocent physical comedy of Dick Van Dyke, Rowan Atkinson or Jim Carrey — those wide eyed larrikins who turned the everyday into the wonderful — Dandyman birthed himself from a straw vagina and I exploded. And that is the juxtaposition wherein lies the magic of this show. Underneath the crisp blue suit, complete with polished white shoes and luminescent bow tie, which radiates the clean, delightful physical theatre traditionally enjoyed by children perhaps more than adults, there is a subversive hint of something more. Something that grows, slowly but surely, culminating in a final sequence involving a watermelon and things-I-dare-not-give-away that can only be experienced in person. Dandyman is surprisingly cheeky and his wide eyes and shuffling feet disguise a sly, hilarious side that pops up when you least expect it.

A hint of narrative — Dandyman waiting for his flight to Honolulu — gives the show a sense of direction without overwhelming it with detail. It allowes insight into a resourceful imagination left to fill time with just a few everyday objects, but more notably, it allows for a character to emerge. A character with moments of both joy and pathos, that which makes Dandyman so endearing. The show was not without a few minor first night technical errors of lighting and sound, but they were overcome with grace and aplomb. Oldacker had already won his audience and errors were quickly forgiven, a testament to the enchantment of his playful charm upon his crowd. The music and lighting added a nostalgic atmosphere which, like Oldaker, paid homage to its roots, while remaining contemporary. Oldaker is doubtlessly a master of his craft.


This review originally appeared in Dirt & Candy