Fringe Review: Peter Goers is Smoked Ham

Words by Samuel McDonough

Coopers Pale Ale, Stobie Poles, Pie Floaters, and Peter Goers.

My exposure to Peter Goers has been constant from childhood. Any evening drives with my father were accompanied by the dulcet tones of the man’s voice whose throat carries the weight of hundreds of Kitchener buns and millions of cigarettes. When I was a teenager, delivering pizza in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, having decided that Triple J was playing rubbish, I turned the radio to AM and was met with the familiar voice of the other passenger of my childhood car rides. It may seem strange, but it wasn’t until actively listening to Mr Goers of my own volition that I came to recognise a distinctly South Australian culture. I was interested to see what Mr Goers would put forward as his contribution to this year’s Fringe Festival.

It is about as South Australian as you can get. Peter enters the stage, not with the trademark “hi-ho everybody”, but as a participant in the Tour Down Under; dressed in lycra, holding a Cibo coffee cup, with two tennis balls and a zucchini pushed down the front of his skin tight cyclist shorts to which he refers as “all him”. The Holden Street Theatres are beautiful old church buildings that have been repurposed, a fitting venue for Mr Goers as what follows is a sermon on the life and experiences of Peter.

He dresses on stage, changing from lycra into his op-shop chic casual wear, punctuated with a pink jacket slightly unravelled at the back. He acknowledges the median age of the audience with a call “Hello old people!” before throwing into the show. He begins with stories about country towns of South Australia, specifically noting the location of the public restrooms. He is an experienced and engaging speaker, and his presence appears so natural it is as though he were born and raised on the hardwood floorboards of stage. This may not be far from the truth, as the subject matter pivots from the parochial hierarchy of the residents of Clare to his experience directing and acting in the theatre of Australia. Of particular note is his recount of a young boy caught in one dress rehearsal kissing his girlfriend, and the subsequent fear that a plague of heterosexuality might spread through the world of musical theatre.

The subject matter moves to sadder themes. Peter gives a kind of obituary to friends of his who have passed. The pain in his voice is clear, particularly when speaking of his late friend, Adelaide comedian Dave Flanagan who passed not six months ago, and celebrates his contributions in both comedy and charity. In speaking of these people, Peter Goers presents the fabric of South Australian culture as far better woven than the jacket he picked up for a fiver in the Salvos of Jamestown.

Peter Goers is such a reflection of South Australia, though, that he does have a tendency to have picked up some negative attributes. The South Australian resistance to change bleeds through his musings on the “weird food” that is now available. It’s an indication of his age, and not in the most endearing of ways. Smoked Ham, like a pie floater, is difficult to recommend to anybody under the age of fifty, but if you are familiar with and appreciate Peter Goers already, you will not be disappointed.

Goodnight Mrs Calabash, wherever you are.

Find tickets to Peter Goers is Smoked Ham here.