Review: Marcus Brigstocke @ Warwick Arts Centre, 3rd December 2016

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Marcus Brigstocke: A sharp satirical voice

Radio 4 stalwart Marcus Brigstocke returned to Coventry with his latest show which was very much an evening of two halves. This new offering, self-deprecatingly titled Why the Long Face?, focused not just on the righteous ire and satirical anger which has dominated so much of his work (though there was plenty of that too), but was also about his personal troubles of late.

Certainly, the first half of the show dealt mainly with the somewhat mixed bag of a year that’s been 2016 – one of political upheaval, the rise of fascism and myriad deaths of beloved cultural icons. Brigstocke, not surprisingly, saved much of his outrage for the subject of the EU referendum, with his pro-European rant being greeted with applause and cheers of approval, but crucially managing to fit in a surfeit of gags along the way. Continue reading “Review: Marcus Brigstocke @ Warwick Arts Centre, 3rd December 2016”

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Review: Paul Foot @ Warwick Arts Centre, 2nd December 2016

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Paul Foot: Surreal stand-up

Paul Foot is certainly no stranger to the absurd. Across a career of carefully concocted silliness, Foot has cultivated a dedicated following through TV appearances and regular touring, sticking very much to his established oeuvre of oddness which has delighted and befuddled in equal measure. His latest show, ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Piglet, didn’t stray from this template, and instead indulges in a rarefied style he called “literal surrealism”.

After the opening section of the show, with oddball poetry from the deadpan, engaging Malcolm Head, Foot headed straight for some familiar territory, though a routine about what might have happened to the people from the empty seats in the front row was an effective flight of fancy, rivaled by a neat set-piece where he took out his anger by punching a soft toy in the face. Continue reading “Review: Paul Foot @ Warwick Arts Centre, 2nd December 2016”

Review: Ed Gamble @ Warwick Arts Centre, 4th November 2016

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Ed Gamble: Stand-up which is really paying off

Ed Gamble was for a long time best known as half of a duo with fellow stand-up Ray Peacock, but his latest solo show, Stampede, saw him delving into personal topics in this sometimes mechanical outing.

Gamble is considered among the very best comperes around, and this was evident in his handling of audience interaction and some interruptions. A highly engaging performer, his assured nature meant that material about his own weight loss, and the tyranny of the food and beauty industries, was easier to relate to. These subjects brought plenty of good moments too, with some imaginative observations which served as the springboard for extended routines and flights of fancy that delivered more often than not.
Continue reading “Review: Ed Gamble @ Warwick Arts Centre, 4th November 2016”

Review: Adam Hess & Rhys James @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th October 2016

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Rhys James: Measured comedy from a Fringe favourite

Gifted comics Adam Hess and Rhys James are currently on tour together, and even share a home, but they don’t have all that much in common when they’re in full flow on stage, besides being hotly-tipped young gag writers.

Over the course of a couple of hours at Warwick Arts Centre, the pair – performing the shows they took to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – showed just why they’re held in such high regard, their incredibly different styles and approaches to comedy making for an entertainingly varied evening. Continue reading “Review: Adam Hess & Rhys James @ Warwick Arts Centre, 6th October 2016”

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

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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”

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

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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

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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”