Review: Nish Kumar @ Warwick Arts Centre, 9th December 2016

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Nish Kumar: Satire turned all the way up to 11

Nish Kumar is a frightened man. He has been ever since the EU referendum, and 2016 has made very little attempt to disabuse him of that fear. The critically acclaimed stand-up received a raft of great reviews at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and he brought that highly rated show – Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud – to Coventry as part of his current UK tour.

What’s most impressive about Kumar, who has in recent series been the host of Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack, is his ability to pair biting satire with silliness, a combination also employed to great effect by acolytes such as Stewart Lee and Andy Zaltzman. That technique was firmly on display here, with Brexit and the US Presidential election understandably dominating, but where other comics tread a similar path, Kumar’s singular voice found fresh angles on well-worn topics, dispensed with winning comic lines and oodles of charm. Continue reading “Review: Nish Kumar @ Warwick Arts Centre, 9th December 2016”

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”

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”

Preview: Felicity Ward @ Wolverhampton Art Gallery

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Felicity Ward: Critically acclaimed stand-up

Australian stand-up Felicity Ward has long been among the most acclaimed stand-ups regularly performing in UK venues, so it’s something of a surprise that this autumn she’s heading out on her first ever UK tour.

Following on from her previous show about depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, 50% More Likely to Die is her latest show, which combines a further look at mental health, depression and anxiety, as well as what happens when someone with control issues loses their stuff.

A brilliantly talented writer and performer, you’ll want to catch Felicity Ward at one of her Midlands dates on the tour – she’s performing at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Sunday 16th October and at Leamington Royal Spa Centre on Wednesday 26th October.

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”

Preview: Mark Thomas @ MAC Birmingham

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Mark Thomas: Red through and through

Stand-up veteran Mark Thomas returns to the Midlands with his latest tour, the third part in a trilogy of theatrical shows, called The Red Shed, which sees him celebrating the 50th birthday of a Wakefield labour club – the site of his first ever gig.

Following on from Bravo Figaro and Cuckooed, this is another show which looks more closely at his own history and life than the politicised output he’s best known for. Both of those shows were fantastic pieces of work, so it’s no shock that The Red Shed continues in a similar vein by receiving excellent reviews during its Edinburgh Fringe run in the summer.

You can catch Mark Thomas perform The Red Shed at Birmingham’s MAC, where he’s doing three shows – 7pm and 9.30pm on Tuesday 18th October, and 7pm on Wednesday 19th October – and at Warwick Arts Centre on Tuesday 14th February.