Skip to main content

Review of Ed Byrne: Outside, Looking In at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Thursday I found myself at my first stand-up in the Derngate theatre as an honoured guest of Mr Chris Sparkle due to Mrs Chris Sparkle doing big business elsewhere. The stand-up in question was Mr Ed Byrne, a comic I was vaguely familiar with via panel shows including Have I Got News For You. However appearances on these shows very rarely give you the gist of what they get up in their live stand-ups. So there was little knowledge of what to expect.

Unshackled from that desk that is the staple of the TV panel show, Mr Byrne became a slightly stalking and ganguly presence on stage. Trailing the large stage microphone cable in tow and occasionally sipping from a generous glass of "juice", he proves an interesting vision.

His material is magical and detailed in its exploration of subjects. After being insulting to bankers (via an anecdote about performing at a corporate gig) and rather strangely Audi drivers (we all agreed during the interval that surely he meant BMW owners), the first half moved to dating. This was explored in great detail but never tiresomely as Mr Byrne easily kept the jokes flowing. He was helped wonderfully on his path by two excellent contributions of dating woes from the audience. I had read in a couple of reviews previously that he had occasionally failed to engineer any life from the audience. However Terry the "marine biologist" successfully engineered a joke or two of his own and Rosaline the librarian gave Mr Byrne the perfect chance to show his quick wittiness with ironically one of the best moments of the night.

The second half drifted through subjects including children in Costa and diarrhoea issues. The first from where I was sitting came under a slightly split line of acceptability especially from some of the examples given. The diarrhoea part though was something else, unpleasant, awkward and giving quite horrific images (including soup ones that may never go away), however also outrageously funny.

Mr Byrne is a rather excellent comic and while he lets quite a few F's go during the show and a single C, he never feels unnecessarily offensive in his language. This is a personal problem that I have when seeing many modern comics on television. Bad language is lazy and rarely part of the joke, so it should be used in moderation. Mr Byrne for me moderates it just about right and makes the whole evening better for it.

So for a first encounter with a stand-up in the Derngate it was a big win. The evening ended on what truly felt like a warm and real story (you can never trust a comic in his truthfulness) and made us happy to leave with fully exercised laughing muscles and a pleasant uplifting feel in the heart.

««««½

Performance reviewed: Thursday 18th February, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Ed Byrne: Outside, Looking In was performed at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate) on Thursday 18th February, 2016 only but is on a tour until June. Website for details: http://edbyrne.com/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Madame Bovary by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Rosanna Lowe's version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was originally commissioned by Simon Godwin for the Northampton Royal Theatre, so it perhaps seems apt, that it returns to a stage of the same town, in this new wacky interpretation from Masque Theatre.

Masque's publicity for the show, describes it as a "madcap tragedy", and for those more familiar with Flaubert's novel you shall perhaps be a little surprised by the anarchic version created here. This is tragedy played for full-on slapstick effect, and while at times it might seem overwhelming in its intensity, the ride we are taken on is a delight.

Directed by Tamsyn Payne and Alex Rex and a team of talented creatives, Madame Bovary's props and design are every bit as important as the talented cast wielding them. For an amateur production, the attention to detail is nothing short of staggering. Gloriously created books filled with delights, puppet dogs and children, mini nuns, and little baskets…

Review of The Selfish Giant at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The Selfish Giant is a curious one. I left uplifted and genuinely happy by the whole affair, yet slightly perturbed as to whether at its heart, it was actually as good as the heart was saying.

Based on a short story by Oscar Wilde, songwriter and musician Guy Chambers has given the piece a musical workover. The Giant (played by Jeff Nicholson) has a wonderful garden which the local children love to play in. However, this is a selfish giant after all, so, annoyed by their presence, he builds a wall to prevent them from entering. The scene is set for this story of personal redemption.

Creating a sung-through musical is a challenge, and Chambers succeeds in The Selfish Giant, although perhaps at the cost of a great deal of variety to the pieces. The weakness of The Selfish Giant always lies at the heart of both lacking numbers you take with you after the show, and indeed variety. The appearance of the giant, in the pacy and deep, real deep, vocals in The Angry Giant is one clear example,…

Review of UoN Fringe: PROJECT 25 by Unorthodox Theatre Collaborations at The Platform, Northampton

This production from Unorthodox Theatre Collaborations is a curious one to review, as I didn't see all of it. PROJECT 25 you see is an immersive, interactive play, where we the audience become very much part of the emerging story.

We are introduced, after being name-checked and tagged, to The Platform, a pharmaceutical company that has come up with the perfect drug that could save the health care system. Or so they say.

The play launches with a smart little-choreographed routine from the cast (and some extra actors), which culminates in company staff member Amy Brown (Jemma Bentley) being sacked and expelled from the building. As Bentley is a cast member, we, of course, know that her return will happen, but in what form?

After this neat and impactful opening, we are led into another room and presented with a glossy and technically impressive launch from the company team Pandora Pearson (Bobbie-Lee Scott) and James Van Laren (Daniel Peace). Following this, we are subjected to a sc…