The Last Temptation of RandyPatrick O’Duffy writes …

On an old, beat-up couch in a share house, a skinny musician with a deep voice hangs out with a wrinkly-necked muppet who looks kind of like a dong. Felt-faced Randy has a story to tell to his housemate: a story of love against impossible odds, a story of two people who find true love only to be separated again. Can a long-distance relationship truly work? Can love overcome all? What would happen if sharks walked on land? Can we truly resist temptation or just push it back for a while? Can an elk wear a fedora? These and other questions are the focus of The Last Temptation of Randy, the latest outing for the sweariest puppet of all.

If you’re used to the over-the-top absurdity of the Sammy-J-and-Randy joints, you might be unprepared for the density and darkness of the purple puppet’s solo shows. Part comedy and part spoken-word performance, this show is an emotionally complex storytelling outing with a healthy dose of metatext. There are also hysterical comedy rantings about shark tax, Groundhog Day for furniture, angry vegetarianism and a whole lot of dirty words.

The show’s sine wave shape of laugh-cry-laugh pulls the narrative along, and the intelligence of the writing sustains the energy even when the narrative gets a bit choppy (and sad) towards the end. As always, puppeteer Heath McIvor coaxes an incredible amount of character and personality out of what is basically a cone of purple felt with googly eyes and a T-shirt. Also, this show has songs, courtesy of Jimmy Stuart from the Miserable Little Bastards, but thankfully not comedy songs.

The Last Temptation of Randy is a smart, angry performance—like the miserable memoir of a narrator that may or may not exist (or have organs other than a hand in his guts). While hardly a feel-good piece, you come away thinking about temptation, love, regret and land sharks—and these are topics worth thinking about. And a show worth seeing.

The Last Temptation of Randy is playing 20 September to 5 October at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.