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Wheels on fire

Fringe World review: Tim Ferguson – A Fast Life on Wheels ·
Midar Room, State Theatre Centre, February 1 ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

It’s impossible not to feel sorry for Tim Ferguson. Not that he’d want us to. It’s also impossible not to forgive him for feeling sorry for himself. And we do.

Ferguson, of course, was the tall (unlike Paul McDermott) non-conversationalist (unlike Richard Fidler) Doug Anthony All Star whose career – or at least that part of it – was cut short by multiple sclerosis.

Now wheelchair-bound, crippled in one arm, hard of hearing, dim of sight, foggy of memory and nappied of plumbing, he’s a walking, well, a wheeling, testament to the sheer horribleness of a disease that basically lurks in the brain looking for things to attack.

Ferguson is, of course, something of an attack dog himself, and there’s some delight in watching his assault on convention – and unconvention – through the video clips from the All Stars and shows like Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush that liberally sprinkle the show.

His description of Nine network emperor Kerry Packer smothering him in a bear hug and telling him how everyone loves him (that’s how the very rich sack you, says Ferguson) was comedy gold; there was nothing funny, though, in a clip showing him interminably and painfully walking to the door with the aid of a rollator to let his helper in.

There were also some revealing anecdotes, in particular the story of his father, Tony, a celebrated war correspondent, who ventured in to Cambodia during the Vietnam War to interview journalist and accused traitor Wilfred Burchett; Ferguson Snr sent his tapes back to the ABC which, under political pressure, burned them. Don’t think ABC-bashing is a recent innovation!

Ferguson, as he tells us, has forged a new career as a motivational speaker and trainer, and he speaks with some pride about his success.

I admire his courage; I also admire his chutzpah.

I suspect he needs lots of both.

Tim Ferguson – A Fast Life on Wheels is on at the State Theatre Centre until February 3.

Pictured top: Tim Ferguson pulling out all stops.

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