Culture critic Alice J Kiff is impressed by the RSC's captivating and funny production of the Alchemist, reviewing it in Stratford-upon-Avon before its upcoming London run.Written by Alice J Kiff on 28th July 2016
Alan Davies: Life is Pain
A rusty Alan Davies stumbled his way onto the stage after a ten year hiatus from stand-up comedy, as part of his comeback tour Life is Pain
A rusty Alan Davies stumbled his way onto the stage after a ten year hiatus from stand-up comedy, as part of his comeback tour Life is Pain.
In the interim Davies has made a name for himself as the role in the TV series Jonathan Creek, and most notably as the lovable quirky dunce of the QI series. Unsurprisingly he was greeted with rapturous applause by a sell-out crowd at Birmingham’s at New Alexandra Theatre.
Despite the warm welcome the question on everybody’s mind was can Davies, a man renowned for playing the empty headed QI buffoon, rediscover the spark of his early days in comedy?
Clearly the scatter-brained QI persona had ingrained itself in Davies. Loafing around the stage at the start of the gig, unsure of himself he lacked rhythm and was only able to half-heartedly mumble a few complaints about the patch ed up stage curtain and a few recycled jokes about the surprising success of the summer Olympics.
The majority of the first half of the show featured hackneyed quips about middle age men’s incomprehension of Facebook social conduct; recycled jokes about health and safety and uninspiring lengthy complaints about his age.
But stand-up comedy is about rhythm and finding your feet with the audience. Thankfully when Davies had scored a few cheap laughs he gained confidence and began to show his true talent as a comedian. He is at his best when spurting surreal observational rants, with standout highlights including the sexual experiences with fanatical feminists in the eighties; imagined thoughts of a lonely baby in a crib and a lengthy explanation about the best way to retrieve baby faeces from the bath.
When Davies eventually found his stride, his chatty down to earth style had a warm appealing quality which was coupled with drole self-deprecation; oddly there is something quite amusing about a comic who laconically pauses to check his prepared list of jokes part way through the show.
Unsurprisingly considering the slow start, the show ended with more of a whimper than a bang, musing he had run out of jokes and should probably leave the stage. But this did not matter the understated quality of his comedy had already won the crowd over.
By James Kinsey