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The World Masters Games don't kick off for another 160 days, but local comedy outfit The Business are already off the block and swimming fast

In their signature event – Sketch Comedy, Family – these veterans of improvised clowning are clear favourites, much-loved among the theatre faithful.

This latest frolic finds our four "masters of track and field" en route to Budapest for the Games' opening ceremony. Things don't go according to plan, of course, and all four end up in the Sunshine Hospital waitingroom. Hijinks ensue.

The Business has been operating for more than a decade and have a fine Aussie-boufon performance style. The slapstick is as daggy as their Howard-esque green-and-gold tracksuits, but nonetheless adorable. This is very much a family show.

Our four athletes, Paul, Barry, Ray and Pierre, are each endearingly drawn battlers. I particularly like Clare Bartholomew's self-centred discuss champion, Pierre, a kind of Muppet version of Richard Griffith. The plot, which at times appears to wobble, stands up winningly in the final moments as the heroes do finally have their moment of long-sought glory.

It's slickly produced, with some very impressive behind the scenes talent, including Kelly Ryall on sound design and Richard Vabre on lighting. The highlight though is the costumes, designed by Andrew Bellchambers – a specialty with The Business: the ensemble of wigs, make-up and eyebrows are a fantastically comic combination.

The Mastes is still well below the company's personal best. There are too many lulls in the action where improvisations don't quite bridge the gap between each set piece, and sometimes our attention can wander in the large Carlton Courthouse theatre.

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By Andrew Furhmann   |   Photos by Andrew Wuttke

The Masters details

349 Drummond St, Carlton 3053

Telephone 03 9347 6948

Price $15.00 to $25.00

Date 13 Feb 2013-24 Feb 2013

Open Tue-Sat 8pm; Sun 5pm

Director: Merophie Carr

Cast: Glynis Angell, Penny Baron, Clare Bartholomew, Kate Kantor

La Mama Courthouse map

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