Review: Milton Jones @ Warwick Arts Centre, 28th October 2017

Milton Jones
Milton Jones: Surreal one-liners which are truly Out There

Gag merchant Milton Jones has been a mainstay of Britain’s stand-up circuit for quite some time now, though it took a number of years before he graduated to playing rooms the size of Warwick Arts Centre‘s Butterworth Hall. A deserved beneficiary of a television boost, thanks to his regular appearances on the long-running panel show Mock the Week, his relentless stream of perfectly-formed one-liners have won him a large following.

Before his belated TV exposure, though, Jones has been entertaining Radio 4 listeners for many years with his joke-packed sitcom series, and of course his frequent touring schedule is now as anticipated as his wild hair and brightly-patterned shirts. Continue reading “Review: Milton Jones @ Warwick Arts Centre, 28th October 2017”

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Review: Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre, 14th February 2017

Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas: Stand-up with a social and political conscience

In recent years, stand-up and activist Mark Thomas has tended to flit between overtly political shows and more personal, theatrical flourishes, such as the deeply touching Bravo Figaro and the highly acclaimed Cuckooed. His latest effort in this sphere, The Red Shed, was perhaps the closest he’s come to merging the two strands of his recent output, being a personal voyage in political protest and recollection of the miners’ strike.

The titular shed, a Labour club based in Wakefield, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and this show was Thomas’ tribute to its influence and staying power throughout turbulent times. In truth, though, it was as much a reflection of the inner workings of the Red Shed as an investigation into Thomas’ own memories, notably of children in a school playground singing a workers’ anthem, and of whether his memory is accurate or a romanticised version of events. Continue reading “Review: Mark Thomas @ Warwick Arts Centre, 14th February 2017”

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

brigstocke
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: 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 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”

Preview: Mark Steel – Who Do I Think I Am? on tour

marksteel
Mark Steel’s back in town

Mark Steel returns to the West Midlands as part of a long UK tour, with his latest show – perhaps his most personal to date. The stalwart of the UK comedy circuit, and Radio 4 favourite, is back with Who Do I Think I Am?, which sees Steel tracing his own life and finding out about his birth mother’s life too.

In recent years Steel’s shows have been geared towards his …In Town format, which sees him doing material about the area where he’s performing, and he’s recorded several series for BBC Radio 4 in addition to regular tours. But this latest outing finds him tackling subjects much closer to home.

Mark Steel performs Who Do I Think I Am? at Coventry’s Warwick Arts Centre on February 11th and at Birmingham’s Old Rep Theatre on June 3rd. Please see the venue websites for ticket prices and booking details.