FRINGE REVIEW – Bruce: Misadventures From a Lap Around Australia

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By Samantha Field

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Trigger Warning: This show includes discussion of suicidal thoughts

Have you ever thought about quitting your job, loading the family in a van, and traveling around Australia? Because at the beginning of 2023 that’s exactly what Tom Clarke did.

Starting in Melbourne and visiting every little town along a 26,000 kilometre trek has given Tom plenty of stories and he shares them with the audience with plenty of energy and some cheeky comments. Tom shares how with his wife Sarah by his side and 4-year-old son Dempsey on his lap, they visited all the ‘Big’ things around the country, discovered the best and worst places to visit, and how they got their van ‘Reggie’ in the first place.

Which does leave the audience wondering, who is Bruce? This is the name that Tom has given to his mental illness, and he plays a big part in the story. Tom speaks very candidly about Bruce, but not in such a way as to sensationalise mental illness. He opens up about how his own expectations of himself led to Bruce being a part of his life, and how it took Bruce following him around the country for him to realise that he needed to reach out for help.

Tom tells his tale in a very carefully planned out way, cherry-picking his stories that at first appear to be just funny anecdotes, but upon the Bruce revelation, are found to have a deeper meaning; that we are not creating an environment for ourselves that is best for our mental health. Despite having no equipment other than a microphone, Tom captivates the audience with his storytelling abilities, his vulnerability, and some impressive air kicks.

Tom is happy to say that Bruce is much quieter these days thanks to medication, capping off a happy ending to his tale. If you are going to this show to get some laughs you will definitely get those, but you will also get the pleasure of having a deeply connecting experience with another person.

4.5 Stars

To book tickets to this show, go here.

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