There’s much I owe to Benito Di Fonzo, who seems to be quite intent on educating me on ragged and ground breaking word obsessives of yesteryear. Previously I had not really known nor acknowledged Bob Dylan as a pivotal pirate of wordsmithery – that is until Di Fonzo landed in my face a production of extreme adventure: THE CHRONIC ILLS OF ROBERT ZIMMERMAN AKA BOB DYLAN (A LIE). Firmly claiming the corner of the market on re-imagined long-titled docu-plays on famous rapscallions, Di Fonzo has introduced me to Lenny Bruce via the velvet voice of Sam Haft and a syncopated slam of a three piece jazz orchestra.

Lenny Bruce the outrageous comedian of the 1960s came to Australia and his tongue/ideas was quarantined. Australians were scandalized by his language, but his lack of regard for societal expectations. Perhaps at the forefront of the crass and vulgar movement to exposing the ugly and the saucy, using language which would never be heard in the hat-wearing, polite society of Sydney, Lenny Bruce – drug addict, divorcee and rebel – caused some trouble, not by what he did but said.

Exposing hypocrisy and hypersensitivity, Lenny Bruce’s crusade is that of honesty through confrontation.

Di Fonzo’s play shows us more than just the hero of Lenny Bruce – because surely if we wanted that, we’d read the book or see the film. More interestingly, Di Fonzo has made a comment on the Australian media – and perhaps culture as a whole. Interestingly, despite the diatribes exposing the segregation and invisibility of indigenous Australians from mainstream society -we see that not much has really changed. Looking around the Bondi Pavillion – indigenous Australian’s still aren’t equally represented in the audience. Or on stage. And perhaps some of the most social commentary is that which exposes how sensitive (or primative) we remain over 40 years later…. perhaps our political sensitivities are a little more left leaning, but our practice of inclusion hasn’t really changed.

It is a brutal realisation.

This is, for me, not a play about comedy nor a play about a comedian. This is a play about journalism, Australian sensibilities, words, freedom of speech, the breaking of tradition/form/expectation, its about operating outside the norm and the expected. It’s about questioning form and content and the machinery of society – all things Bruce loved and strived for and talks of: and everything Di Fonzo actively walks.

Though I found the first half disorienting and confusing, the performances from the cast, the swift and cheeky direction (Lucinda Gleeson) served the spirit of the writing. Worth checking out.

Read these journos if you’re not convinced: