Jon Walpole & Jeromaia Detto star as Jon & Jero in their new family friendly stage show, STUFF! It’s a fun filled, interactive choose-your-own-adventure tale of two brothers trying to recover their stolen stuff. With a little help from the audience, Jon & Jero travel the globe, sing songs and chase a dastardly robber!
While I hadn’t seen Detto‘s work before, I first encountered Walpole last year for his Melbourne International Comedy Festival show ‘Uh Yeah…So’. I enjoyed his act immensely with Jon‘s natural skill as a performer being readily apparent. The high energy and physicality on display being reminiscent of early John Cleese Monty Python silliness and is something sure to also appeal to children.
With especially young audiences, I find interactive theatre is the way to go. Often it seems organising children at a cinema can feel like trying to herd cats. What better way to keep a child’s attention than inviting them to be a part of the show itself?
This is how STUFF! begins, with Detto in the role of a neighbourhood watch officer. As latecomers trickle in, he walks through the crowd with a wanted sign asking the young audience if they have seen a robber. Soon Walpole, as the robber, is sneaking around on-stage stealing things from behind Detto and the children are going nuts! I know that “He’s behind you!” sounds like a cliché but kids are instantly drawn into the show and are enthralled.
We’re then introduced to our true stars: the brothers Jon & Jero. With initials ‘J & J’ on their outfits to avoid confusion *wink* the brothers discover their stuff (and even their butts) have been stolen. With help from the audience, they know who is responsible, and so they set off to begin their quest!
Soon, the whole room is erupting in laughter with STUFF! containing imagination, prop comedy, multiple characters, slapstick, and heaps of audience participation. Periodically throughout the show, Jon & Jero would give the young audience members multiple options on how they wish to proceed with their applause determining just how the experience will go on.
The crowd interplay doesn’t stop just their either. Regularly, Jon & Jero will come down into the audience to shake hands with the kids, ask them for their help and even at one point, ask them to tell their best joke to help turn Jon into a chicken! Some kids (and some adults) are also invited on stage to be part of the act.
The most rewarding part I think some kids will find is when asked to press a magic button. As they do, the lighting of the whole room changes to different colours. Blues, reds, greens, and Jon & Jero are teleported to the next location. The lighting and sound effects throughout the show enhance the entire experience. Of course, the standout being the rendition of ‘I Miss My Butt’ which turns into a sing-along.
Jon Walpole & Jeromaia Detto: STUFF! is truly an extremely fun hour of entertainment for all ages. Walpole and Detto share excellent chemistry and play off each other really well. More crucially, they know just how to talk to kids and give them a great show. There are no inappropriate gags but adults will still find plenty to laugh at too (the ‘sandstorm’ joke alone nearly floored me). Any unexpected gaffs or slip-ups are incorporated thanks to the duo’s improvisational skills.
For a new show, it feels like these guys have been perfecting it for years. I highly recommended checking this unique experience out.
Jon Walpole & Jeromaia Detto: STUFF! is currently playing as part of the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival at ACMI’s Swinburne Studio until the 23rd of April 2023.
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