The Gospel According to Matthew premiered at Melbourne’s The Butterfly Club this past March.
The Gospel According to Matthew is a hilarious and stunningly-devised show from Matthew Semple that manages to hybridise both cabaret and stand-up comedy elements. Essentially a comedic representation of Semple’s various thoughts and feelings, the show touches on themes such as Australian politics, relationships, religion and what to do if your partner ‘converts’ to vegetarianism.
Semple was exceptionally funny from start to finish. The songs themselves were wry and comical, playing on dark humour and self-deprecation. Described as Tim Minchin-esque, the comparison did not fall on deaf ears – I could easily see the similarities in the quick, witty lyrics. A crowd favourite seemed to be ‘Thanks Peter,’ a love song dedicated to an eminent politician.
Semple’s rhyme structure was absolutely flawless. Although I’m unsure as to whether any lyrics were improvised, he managed to deliver rap after rap, constantly surprising the audience when he seemingly pulled rhyming words out of nowhere. These moments were very reminiscent of Lin Manuel Miranda, a comparison I’m sure many audience members would agree with.
However, at times I do think that there could have been better cohesion between the songs and the linking ‘banter’, because on occasion this felt a little disconnected. These little bumps in the production’s flow could be ironed out with time and a bit of fine-tuning.
The content of the show itself pushed the boundary between relatable and politically incorrect, which had the audience in fits of guilty laughter. It was almost as if Semple was gleefully toeing this line, seeing how far he could push viewers and what reactions he could elicit from them.
The show was rather devoid of any big technical grabs, but this wasn’t particularly needed as it had already taken on that intimate, cabaret-like feel. Semple did, however, wow the audience with a sleight-of-hand trick where he turned water into wine, Jesus style – this kind of kitschy humour really helped set the tone for the show.
All satire aside, as the show came to a conclusion, it also imparted quite a beautiful message: find something that you are passionate about and believe in, whether that be religion, musical theatre or anything in between. Decide what’s right and what’s wrong, and take that as your gospel.
All in all, The Gospel According to Matthew was an intensely funny look at what it means to exist in the world, interlaced with anecdotes and one-liners that clearly resounded with the audience, leaving them giggling right ’til the end. Matthew Semple delivered a stellar show, and I can’t wait to see what this extremely talented performer will do next.
Review by Blaze Bryans