Nailsea Tithe Barn
Somerset Fringe - August 2015
2-4-1 Somerset Fringe
If you had closed your eyes and wished really hard you could pretend you were north of the border at the Edinburgh Fringe when in reality it was North Somerset and a comedy gig at the Tithe Barn, Nailsea.
It wasn’t the ideal date – the Thursday night before August bank holiday weekend – and the audience was thin on the ground but all agreed the medieval venue was perfect for two one-man shows doing the circuit for the Somerset Fringe season.
First up was multi-talented Devonian Matt Cann with his energetic performance of Mind Over Matt.
Billed as a demonstration of what ‘it's like to live with ADHD and issues such as sexuality and where babies come from’ the delivery was fast, furious and funny.
But it began with the ‘click bait’ shock bottom joke using phallic fruit and a tin of tomatoes...moving on it descended into organised chaos and we loved the randomness of it all.
Matt arrives on stage looking like a cross between a drag artist in black stockings from the League of Gentleman and bearded Eurovision star Conchita Wurst with his costume courtesy of a charity shop topped by a woollen balaclava.
He was pushing what appeared to be a road sweepers trolley loaded with props which included bass electric guitar, bottomless orange handbag, Apple laptop, duct tape, plastic toy vehicles and a noose!
Devoid of emotion with a catchphrase of ‘ah um’ the deadpan humour was spiced by dance, mime and mayhem.
Matt reveals his life so far from being a keen gardener who smacks on geranium lip gloss to annoying his neighbours with loud music.
Best of all he likes being a gender non specific glove whisperer and asks - forlornly- wagging his washing-up hand inside a pink Marigold ‘what is a glove without love – just a G’.
What made this technically flawless performance was the order of events when the prompt cards found a life of their own and ended up scattered on the stage.
Matt played out his comedic set against a projected backdrop with a short fuse, darting coloured stars and pre recorded ansaphone interruptions.
While the withering hand-waving Kate Bush and the manic sliding Jimmy Hendrix was fun these antics couldn’t compete with the finale high kicking sweaty can-can danced in his underpants to The Infernal Galop from Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld - pure art mixed with psycho stimulants.
Matt has raised the bar pretty high so the expectations for the second act of James Luckraft-Law were perhaps a little unrealistic.
Although the white van driver in the audience thought James was the best I couldn’t agree.
Wearing a crown and wielding a sword for me it was a monologue of mediocrity about a frog wanting to be a prince.
Portraying an inept amphibian who would be king this solo show was called Just Charming.
Using a storytelling format which included reading long chapters James talked about the role of men as portrayed in folklore fantasies.
James complained that royal leading men in fairytales are rarely even given a name unlike Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel.
And he contrasted make believe with real life bemoaning his non noble appearance and the fact he doesn’t ride to work on a trusty steed.
Mr White Van Driver said he loved all the literary connotations from the bible to David Bowie adding: “It was a fabulous one-man show exploding stereotypes with aplomb.
“The show is more masculine than chauvinistic and would appeal to any male audience.”
My brother and I always disagree about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything but it could be sibling rivalry rather than a battle of the sexes that made us have differing opinions.
James made another bottom joke not about his bum being big but that is wasn’t ‘bootylicious‘ and then shock horror he admitted his stubble stuck to the first person he kissed!
He did make me smile when he asked: “If Cinderella’s shoe fell off doesn’t that mean it wasn’t the best fit in the first place?”
My thoughts were this self-indulgent monologue about the life of a loser in love was more suited to a student bar.
Brother thought it was a cleverly crafted piece told from a male perspective and that suited him.
I did like the health and safety worries about make believe domesticated animals effortlessly doing housework and I smiled when with a swish of a pink toy wand James confided that a princess in a glass coffin would ‘definitely be a ‘stop sign’ to me’.
The Plymouth based actor/performer asks is life really like a Disney fairy story where every princess finds her prince?
And he explores how bedtime stories told to him as a child affected him and his expectations.
With his delivery done in a miserable tone James would be more at home at Dismaland the Banksy exhibition at Weston-super-Mare as he failed to enchant me although my Grimm bro fervently disagreed.
Re:ACT presents the Somerset Fringe which is a festival showcasing emerging and existing talent in the heart of the south west by encouraging diverse entertainment across the mediums of music, dance, art and drama.
Alternative 16+ fringe comedy plays Nailsea
Forget Edinburgh we have the Somerset Fringe coming to Nailsea.
Two separate adult comedy one man shows are booked for Thursday, August 27, at the Tithe Barn.
The first is called Mind Over Matt with Matt Cann, pictured top, and this is followed by Just Charming with James Law, pictured below.
North Devon performance art graduate Matt stars in his autobiographical comedy at 6pm and James takes to the stage at 7.30pm.
Matt said: "I am Mary, I am a glove whisperer, I am a sex addict...maybe not that last one.
“My show is a light hearted and honest approach to existence and all the things that can ever go wrong.”
With music, dance, the spoken word and laughter the story involves a touch of improvisation, complete randomness and adult humour - that’s if it doesn’t all go wrong (again) without the use of psychostimulants, he adds.
The hour-long happening starts at 6pm.
Just Charming is a personal look at the role of gender, masculinity and sexuality against reality's make believe.
Plymouth based actor/performer James who trained as a stage manager is also a graduate of Plymouth University.
In this show he asks is life really like a Disney fairy story where every princess finds her prince?
James explores how the tales he was told as a child affected him and his expectations by mixing monologues, stand up style confessions with sketches.
It is an honest and comic exploration of storytelling.
The performances are £6 each but for the special price of £10 you can see both Mind Over Matt at 6pm and Just Charming at 7.30pm at the same venue.
Follow the links below or call the box office on 0750 594 1461.
* booking fee applies
Alternately you can book for both by using the James Law link and selecting the 2-4-1 deal by entering the code PLYMOUTH.
Theatre company Re:ACT presents the Somerset Fringe which is a festival showcasing emerging and existing talent in the heart of the South West.
Its aim is to encourage diverse entertainment across the mediums of music, dance, art and drama.