Rhys Darby Royal Theatre, Toronto ON, September 25
Published Sep 26, 2015New Zealand character actor Rhys Darby is best known to North American audiences as Murray, the hapless band manager from Flight of the Conchords, so the act he brought to Toronto in his first-ever solo appearance in the city probably surprised some people with its physicality.
Emerging without an opening act, Darby walked out with a wireless headset instead of a traditional microphone, dressed in a black T-shirt and skinny jeans, and immediately began riffing about his choice of legwear. It seemed like a casual opening geared to easing into his set, but once he started miming how it changed his gait and the protruding wallet in his back pocket attracted the attention of pickpockets, it became clear that the silly walk mimicry was foundational to his physical comedy.
Throughout his hour-long set, Darby pushed the limits of his physical expression, from an extended bit about capturing the pickpocket in his tight jeans to his reactions to his wife calling him in from "building" in his garage. He took advantage of the whole stage as he mimed his time training in the New Zealand army — they couldn't afford ammunition, so their "war games" involved pointing a gun and yelling "Bullets bullets bullets!" — and an extended story about accidentally taking mushrooms on his honeymoon in Thailand.
The combination of wordplay and movement made for a remarkably funny evening that played against the stereotypes one might have of Darby's work, delighting and surprising the crowd.