Monday 22 January 2024

Stage: Blissfully out of control

host Zach Zucker
with Natalie Palamides, Martin Urbano, Kemah Bob, Furiozo, Marshall Arkley, Cleopantha, Rowen K, Steffen Hanes, Erin Farrington, Dylan Woodley
sound Jonny Woolley • lighting Lily Woodford-Lewis
Soho Theatre, London • 17-27.Jan.24

Marshall Arkley
Even before this show starts, boisterous chaos has already filled the theatre. Then master of ceremonies Jack Tucker (aka Zach Zucker) takes the mic and everything spirals even more blissfully out of control. This is a remarkable collision of standup, burlesque and clownery, unfolding with an expert sense of improvisational energy that often seems to catch the performers themselves off guard. It's so relentlessly entertaining and unpredictable, that audience members will want to come back and see what might happen next time.

At the centre of a wildly full-on variety show, the charming Zucker skilfully holds things together, teetering on the edge of anarchy. His corny jokes elicit applause and groans as he peppers us with a continuous series of snappy visual and verbal gags. When he can, he introduces the next act. The show includes three burlesque numbers, with Cleopantha sparking sassy attitude in a eye-popping traditional routine, Rowen K displaying impressive acrobatic handstands and muscle man Marshall Arkley adding whip-cracking, fire-breathing antics along with, well, it needs to be seen to be believed.

Stage manager Erin offers trigger warnings for the edgier elements in the show, but arrives far too late. The beefy Furiozo inventively mimes an entire crime saga with game assistance from an audience member. Kemah Bob delivers a surreally hilarious standup set about the innate absurdity of seasalt. A vampire (Hanes) stalks the show waiting for his chance to add something spooky. And comic Martin Urbano plays a critic who reads from his appalling notes throughout the show. 

There's a lot more going on, and nothing that happens seems to go quite as planned. But because it's so genuinely amusing, the audience can't help but get swept into the swirling energy. Each of these performers, including the people running the sound and lighting, is a the very best at what they do. Their timing, quick thinking and ability to riff off each other is flat-out genius, blending smart punchlines with sublimely silly buffoonery. And because the show plays out with such a gleefully freeform structure, it will always be fresh and new, unexpected and jaw-dropping. And definitely not for the faint of heart.

For information, STAMPTOWN >
photos are from previous productions • 18.Jan.24

No comments: