Review: Sara Pascoe @ Warwick Arts Centre, 2nd June 2016

Sara Pascoe
Sara Pascoe: Animal

Stand-up Sara Pascoe has long been a force on the British circuit, her singular brand of comedy fusing discussion of important topics with no shortage of silliness and filth. A potent combination, this has led to successful tours and TV appearances, and more recently a book – Animal – which focuses on feminism and the female body.

Her current tour, also titled Animal, isn’t a retread of that tome, though. Rather than a companion piece to it, the show instead took off in a completely different direction, which might lead some to wonder why they share a moniker. In fairness, it is a good title, so why not? Continue reading “Review: Sara Pascoe @ Warwick Arts Centre, 2nd June 2016”

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Review: Max & Ivan @ Warwick Arts Centre, 25th May 2016

Max & Ivan
Max & Ivan: this is the end

Having embarked on their first ever full tour, sketch duo Max & Ivan (Max Olesker and Ivan Gonzalez) are most likely performing to many audience members for the first time, which seems odd given how long they’ve been a key act on the British sketch comedy scene.

Despite the numerical difference, there are certainly some parallels with one of the other leading sketch acts in the country: Pappy’s. Most notably, both have a predilection for shows which bring together multiple characters and sketches into a narrative whole. Additionally, both have intangible strengths which mean their best work is on the stage, with forays into other media not working quite as well (see Radio 4 series The Casebook of Max & Ivan, which failed to live up to their fearsome live reputation). Continue reading “Review: Max & Ivan @ Warwick Arts Centre, 25th May 2016”

Review: Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre, 17th March 2016

Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas: Trespass

After a couple of decidedly personal forays into storytelling for recent shows, the latest outing from Mark Thomas saw him return to the politicised output he’s most widely known for. Trespass, in a similar vein to his well-received 100 Minor Acts of Dissent, found Thomas in typically agitated form, perfectly equipped for performing political comedy against the backdrop of a Conservative government.

The show threw a spotlight on the topic of reclaiming land for public use, flying in the face of draconian laws introduced by local authorities and exposing injustices which, he suggested, needed to be challenged. What followed was tales of defying those authorities, making the stuff of nightmares for security guards.
Continue reading “Review: Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre, 17th March 2016”

Review: Gein’s Family Giftshop @ Warwick Arts Centre, 16th March 2016

Gein's Family Giftshop
Gein’s Family Giftshop: Award-winning sketch troupe head out on tour

It might be odd to see PE kits on stage – and maybe even bring embarrassing flashbacks for some – but the plain white t-shirts and gym shorts are the uniform of choice for acclaimed sketch act Gein’s Family Giftshop. The trio of James Meehan, Kath Hughes and Ed Easton – aided and abetted by Kiri Pritchard-McLean, who was also the support act here – have carved out a niche as purveyors of dark sketch comedy, and this compilation of the best bits from their past two shows displayed just why they’re so highly regarded.

With inspired sketches about breaking bad news, imaginary friends, and dancing to The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’, the three-piece meld influences such as the delicious darkness of The League of Gentlemen with the violence and energy of The Young Ones for a heady mix of cleverness and filth. Continue reading “Review: Gein’s Family Giftshop @ Warwick Arts Centre, 16th March 2016”

Review: Alun Cochrane @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th March 2016

Alun Cochrane
Alun Cochrane: Man

As show titles go, A Show With A Man In It is a wholly accurate description of what ensued in this 90 minutes. Suggested by Alun Cochrane‘s son, the stand-up adopted it for his run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and, in its pleasing simplicity, seems to comfortably reflect the un-showy nature of Cochrane’s output.

Now a regular at the Fringe, on Radio 4 and touring the UK’s arts centres, Cochrane cuts a figure of understatement, from that title to his outfit to the self-deprecating way he describes his show and its alleged lack of jokes, though that claim turned out to be far from the truth. Continue reading “Review: Alun Cochrane @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th March 2016”

Review: Richard Herring @ Warwick Arts Centre, 3rd March 2016

Richard Herring
Richard Herring: Happy now?

Richard Herring is a stand-up veteran and also something of a workhorse these days. His disparate stream of podcasts and stage output in recent years has been an impressive example of productivity, not content to restrict himself to one new show every year and instead churning out hours upon hours of free entertainment for fans.

The real meat of his oeurve, though, remains his stand-up. In the past decade or so Herring has taken a unique comic look at subjects such as childhood, family, adulthood, love, death, religion and racism, among others, usually with stirring results. Continue reading “Review: Richard Herring @ Warwick Arts Centre, 3rd March 2016”

Review: Mark Steel @ Warwick Arts Centre, 11th February 2016

Mark Steel
Mark Steel’s back in town

Nature or nurture? You might think you know who you are, and why, but veteran stand-up Mark Steel‘s latest show proved it might not be as clear-cut as you thought. The Radio 4 favourite and cricket fan grew up in Swanley, in Kent, knowing he was adopted, and in Who Do I Think I Am? he told the tale of how he found out the strange truth about his mother and father.

While there was a strong undercurrent of Steel’s politicised material – he’s an ardent left-wing comic and activist – this show was a deeply personal couple of hours which concentrated far more on storytelling than his usual output would suggest. Continue reading “Review: Mark Steel @ Warwick Arts Centre, 11th February 2016”