Memoirs of a Human Cannonball

 In 2006, Matt Wilson nearly lost his penis (and his life) in a circus accident. 

 Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2010 Presented By: Full TiltVenue: Blackbox, the Arts Centre Thursday 25 March 2010
CannonballIn 2006, Matt Wilson nearly lost his penis (and his life) in a circus accident.
Memoirs of a Human Cannonball is an amazing story of horror and courage and the general incredibleness of Crash Matt Wilson, but its telling gets lost in the show.
With her blonde beehive and pink polka dot frock, Peekay (wonderful Shirley Billing) welcomes the audience with popcorn, something she once sold at circuses all over the world but an accident forced her to retire to the Coburg Caravan Park. Here she meets the Singing Stuntman, who also knows circus and has a story to tell.
Peekay knows the importance of telling your story “because it might make a good story” and that it’s as “simple” as saying your name and making a story. So please Peekay and Singing Stuntman, listen to your own words and tell this amazing story with the passion, conflict, fear and gob smacking courage that created it.
Memoirs of a Human Cannonball is Wilson’s story. With its mix of fact, fiction, circus history and fun, it is not clear that it is Wilson’s story or that the bloke on the stage isn’t a fictional character. It’s easy to see it in retrospect, but – like paying punters – I came to Memoirs of a Human Cannonball with no more than the guide description and I’m only understanding how awesome it is from googling old news stories.  
I’m tempted to see it again, now that I know what it’s about, because at the time I was enjoying the performances, but was a bit bored and didn’t start caring until too late in the show. 
At first, I thought it was a children’s show, with its catchy songs and nutty Zacchini brothers, until the discussion about unimaginable pain and how much morphine was needed (and the picture). Not that this kind of detail should necessarily be kept from a children’s show, but the shock came from the change in tone, rather than from the story being told.
Memoirs of a Human Cannonball is going to be as amazing as its story. All the elements are there. The puppet theatre backdrop design is perfect, the songs are brilliant, the characters are adorable, the cabaret concept could be no better; but until the story becomes the focus of the night (please work with a writer), too many people are going to leave wondering what they just sat through or not see this story at all. Bookings: Until 17 April 

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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