Dylan Cole’s Case Numbers – a show about a man who’s inherited a locked briefcase

by | Mar 14, 2023

Written and performed by writer/performer Dylan Cole, Case Numbers is a fascinating meta-thriller that analyses the narrative conventions used in writing. It has no beginning or ending and, while there is a middle, it’s entirely pointless.

Nominated for Best Comedy Award at the 2020 Melbourne Fringe Festival, this MICF premiere season is a gripping and thoroughly entertaining story containing all the twists and turns of a trashy Dan Brown novel, but also the overly complex and confusing narrative of a Christopher Nolan film. It has nothing to do with COVID. So, relax.


 How would you describe your show to someone who knows very little about it?

It’s a cerebral and absurd comedy show that’s a cross between a Samuel Beckett play and a Christopher Nolan film.

The show is the story of one man trying to crack the code to a briefcase. Only one problem, the story has no beginning or end, and the middle is entirely pointless. It’s a wild ride.

What makes it stand out and why should people see it?

If you like a comedy show that makes you think, that’s more than just jokes, and that plays with narrative conventions, then this is the show for you. Also, if you like Deal or No Deal because you are transfixed by an hour of television where someone is just standing opening cases – if you think that is entertaining – then definitely come along.

What about the film The Hunt for Red October inspired you to use it?

I think Sean Connery playing a Russian Submarine captain is just inherently funny. It also ties into code cracking and the whole spy/cold war film genre that the show is emulating.

The show is riddled with 80s and 90s pulp culture references and The Hunt for Red October just slots perfectly in there. Also, with all the talk of AUKUS pact and Russia threatening nuclear war – suddenly, the reference seems entirely relevant.

There’s just something funny about certain nostalgia. I mean, do you remember Bubble Jet Printers? They were funny. I haven’t written a joke about it yet, but I will, and when I write it I’ll buy a Bubble Jet Printer and then I’ll print the joke using my Bubble Jet Printer and all will be right with the world.

How long was the process from idea to writing to stage? Any challenges along the way?

It always was an iterative process and the show evolves every time I do it – the show is very different to when I started. It was originally written as a live show, then went to Digital due to COVID, then back to live.

It changes depending on the audience and local flavour. For example, I have one bit in the show where I mention performing in a Tent – well, I’m happy to report I’m in a climate controlled lovely venue during MICF, so I have to change that. I also bang on about Four & Twenty Sausage Rolls and 7-Eleven’s, and in Adelaide (where I’ll also be performing) you don’t really come across either of those things. The culture divide between Victorians and South Australians is extraordinary. Imagine living in a world where you can’t get Slurpees for free for one whole day in November?

It’s a world I don’t want to know.

What attracts you to comedy?

The instant feedback you get from the audience is very gratifying.

You know instantly where you stand with your writing and where you’ve got to work harder. This means that you must rework the show constantly. It never ends. Come to think of it… I hate comedy. I’m going to write a theatre show that no-one understands, and people can pretend to like it to impress their friends.

Who would you say have been your biggest inspirations?

My Mum.

Partly because it’s true and partly because I like the collective “Awwwww” that happens when you say something like that. Besides I’ve been terrible the last couple of Mother’s Days where everyone has been posting “My Mum’s The Best!” messages on social media. I don’t do that. And my Mum is starting to wonder if she really is the best Mum.

Hopefully this will go a long way to saying she is the best and excuse me from participating in that Hallmark holiday ever again.

What are three things that would surprise people to learn about you?

  1. My tongue is longer than Gene Simmons.
  2. I’m ambidextrous
  3. I don’t believe in jet lag

So, if you ever need me to lick both of my elbows while flying long-haul – I’m your guy.

What comes after the MICF for you?

 Sleep, always sleep. Until June, where my wife and I will welcome our first child.

To my family and friends who I haven’t told yet that we are expecting… Surprise! Consider this your notice. I can’t keep track of it of who I have and haven’t told, but now it’s out in the open, on the internet… forever.

A show for comedy lovers who prefer their humour to be witty, well crafted, and very much left of the centre, Case Numbers runs for ten performances only at the CBD’s Greek Centre during the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Not to be missed, tickets now selling!

March 30 – April 9


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