Think you’ve got it tough? Odds are, Woodley (Frank Woodley) has it tougher. Recently divorced from Em (Justine Clarke), and father to Ollie (Alexandra Cashmere), Woodley is a tragic figure. His day to day routines are muddled with bumbling clumsiness, and crippling sadness. Despite this, Woodley is a warm and funny half hour spent with one of Australia’s hilarious comics.
Woodley is a sad clown essentially. The underlying score sounds straight of a French slapstick comedy, therefore placing Woodley in the character of a mime, or a toned down, modern day Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. His exaggerations on every physical movement show the desires, failures and hopes of his character with the terrific skill and tremendous pathos.
Down on his luck, downtrodden and down hearted, Woodley’s every move results in some form of minor chaos. His incompetency is so strong, that eating is a difficult task to entertain, and thus results in the disintegration of his marriage. Through flashbacks, we gain an insight into the dissolution of the marriage, allowing the wonderful Justine Clarke a range of opportunities to show love, concern, distress, sadness and finally a little hope (which she does effortless well).
Anyone familiar with the comedy of Frank Woodley from his stint in The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, will know the precocious and slapstick nature of Woodley’s routine. Expanding on the silly façade, Woodley allows Frank to show a softer, tender side, while still being side-splittingly funny. The peak of his desperation situates him in an egg suit handing out flyers in the street. Kicked when he’s down, our hero, despite his ineptness is still charmingly amusing. Upon realising the shop where he is usually unzipped from the egg costume is closed, Woodley’s anxiety reaches maximum heights and results in a hysterical reaction and hysterical scenes of incapacitated humour.
New comedy in the form of minimalist, French inspired comedy is a welcome treat to the ABC, mainly due to the appeal of its star. It is too difficult to say if the slapstick comedy will tire after eight episodes, but Woodley certainly looks to be a fun series to follow.
Woodley premieres on Wed 22 Feb at 8pm on ABC1 and will screen weekly. Woodley also screens on ABC2 and iView. Click here to read other episode reviews.