Reviews from Paul's pen

Reviews from Paul's pen

23/02/2018

Laura Monmoth - LGBT QZX


Review by: Paul Towers, 23 February 2018
Laura Monmoth – LGBT QZX
Upstairs @ The Western, 23rd Feb 2018

“the story of  how a lifelong addiction to retro gaming caused it all.”

How ironic that a show by Andy Fowler called ‘I’m better than this’ is cancelled due to illness (a very painful kidney infection).
Into his place at 48 hours notice we had Laura Monmoth and her show LGBT QZX, described as “Laura Monmoth has spent her life battling demons, jealousy, breakdowns and level six of Manic Miner. This is the story of  how a lifelong addiction to retro gaming caused it all, and forced the biggest change in her life.”
”A show dedicated to fans of gaming, love, false expectations, karaoke, or simply just trying to stay alive.”
After a sold out show in last year’s Edinburgh Festival Laura is back on the comedy circuit with this extended Powerpoint presentation  detailing her early life and the influence 8 bit computer games (or the lack thereof) had on her development. If you are a fan of Dave Gorman then you will certainly ‘get’ Laura Monmoth.
Not only did we get her persistent denial of being addicted to early tape driven Spectrum games but we were also introduced to what is one of the cleverest but most pointless ways to waste a couple of days. Facebook karaoke. This entails taking a song, in this case the 7 minute Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, and finding Facebook profile names that fit the lyrics. More or less. Hugely entertaining and worthy of a singalong, but completely useless unless you have whole days to waste.
Details of upcoming gigs can be found on Laura Monmoth’s Facebook page

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
http://ptheatre.blogspot.co.uk/
First published on Western Gazette

Young Frankenstein - The Musical


Review by: Paul Towers, 21 February 2018
Young Frankenstein by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
The Garrick Theatre, London - ongoing

“dark, tasteless humour.”

Mel Brooks’ is one of those marmite producer/writer/actors. You either get his humour or you don’t. I love it! He is the master of tasteless jokes, excruciating puns and belly laughing humour. Not only does he write screen plays but he also does all the music and lyrics as well.
Young Frankenstein is a very typical masterpiece of Brooks’ particular bad taste humour. This a tale of  Baron Viktor Frankenstein’s young grandson who travels to Transylvania to wind up the estate of his dead grandfather. Frederick is determined to distance himself from his monstrous relative’s work but, inevitably, he is dragged into recreating the experiments using his grandfather’s notebooks.
If you have seen the original 1974 film then you will not be disappointed with this musical stage production. Every single one of the gags from the movie are there along with showgirls, dancing and extra gags.
Hadley Fraser in the title role does a fine job of channelling Gene Wilder, the originator of the role on film. Leslie Joseph as Frau Blucher (horse neighs offstage!) has great fun as the sinister housekeeper, bounding around the stage belying her 72 years. Cory English took over from Ross Noble as Igor for this performance, a worthy successor to Marty Feldman in the film.
If you like dark, tasteless humour then get yourself down to The Garrick Theatre in London’s West End as this show continues to pack in audiences.
I had a terrible journey down into London and arrived about 10 minutes after curtain up but the staff were incredibly helpful and smuggled me into the auditorium at the end of the opening number. I have to say that the Garrick is not one of my favourite theatres. The d├ęcor is very much institutional beige with vast bare walls just begging for posters from past productions. In the stalls there are loads of columns holding up the gallery restricting the view from many seats towards the back. Add to that the unfortunate regular rumble of tube trains every 10 minutes. While this isn’t much of a distraction in a comedy it would be very off-putting in a serious play. On the plus side the Garrick has very good leg room in the stalls, especially useful for me at 6’5”!

http://ptheatre.blogspot.co.uk/

17/02/2018

Tom Young - Old and New

Review by: Paul Towers, 17 February 2018
Tom Young – Old and New
Upstairs @ The Western, 17th Feb 2018

“local comedy hero"

Leicestershire comedian, Tom Young, is the founder of Upstairs at The Western’s resident improv team, The Same Faces and is very well known on the comedy scene, especially around the Midlands.
As well as working extensively with improv groups and running improv workshops, Tom has a career as a stand up in his own right.
As part of the Leicester Comedy Festival, an event he has been part of seemingly forever, he appeared tonight in two sessions at Upstairs, the first was a ‘best of’ from the last few years and the second was a whole new show. The sold out audience were very much behind their local hero as he regaled us with the problems of being 6’7”, 15 stone and perennially single for the last 12 years (he’s only 29!).
His Trump impersonation especially stood out for me and his conversational delivery confirmed his assertation that many of his gigs had been tried out in his mates’ front rooms.
Full details of up coming performances can be found on www.tomyoungcomedy.co.uk

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
http://ptheatre.blogspot.co.uk/
First published on  Western Gazette


16/02/2018

George Egg DIY Chef


Review by: Paul Towers, 16/02/18
George Egg DIY Chef
Upstairs @ The Western, 15 – 17th February 2018

“an evening of non stop laughs

George Egg brought us his 2016 show, George Egg Anarchist Cook when he let us into the secrets of cooking in hotel rooms with the bare essentials.
Now he makes a welcome return with his 2018 show in which he has, through necessity, taken his alternative methods of cooking to new extremes.
After a minor health scare his long suffering wife has put him on a strict, bland diet, banished him from the kitchen and told him to go and ‘fiddle with stuff’ in his shed at the bottom of the garden. There our hero has used his fertile imagination to find ways of satisfying his taste buds.
So, live on stage, George prepares a 3 course meal every night and serves it up to the audience at the end of the show. Tonight we had kippers and eggs (broiled under a steam paint stripper!), pasta with a lovely cheese sauce (tagliatelle created from sheets of fresh pasta put through an office paper shredder) and steak cooked on a shovel with a blow torch.
Now, that would all be impressive enough but all the while George amuses us with food facts, hilarious patter and rubbish poetry.
With a  look that owes much to Bill Bailey and a surreal sense of humour that matches his look this is an evening of non stop laughs and a free meal at the end of it. What more can you ask? Tonight’s show is supported by Nisbets, catering equipment to the licensed premises industry.
George Egg is back at Upstairs at The Western tomorrow (Saturday) but is sold out. Watch the theatre twitter feed for any returns. Otherwise catch this hilarious show on tour. Full details on www.anarchistcook.info

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
First published on Western Gazette


Extreme Commuter


Review by: Paul Towers, 16 February 2018
Extreme Commuter with Adham Fisher
Upstairs @ The Western, 16 February 2018

“charmingly self deprecating”

Adham Fisher is obsessed with public transport. Last year he set out with a group of friends to travel on every single bus route in the TfL (Transport for London) region in 24 hours. This is his story.
Adham is the first to admit he is not a comedian, its just that funny (peculiar and ha ha) things happen to him.
His delivery is hesitant and posh sounding, even though he is Leicester born and bred. But that’s what an education at Leicester Grammar School does for you!
He has no illusions about his abilities and is charmingly self deprecating throughout this multi media presentation of his adventures travelling on the red buses of the capital in September 2017. A self confessed geek he is slightly bemused by the attention his adventures have gained him but is grasping every opportunity as it comes along. He has posted a selection of videos on YouTube if you want to see what all the fuss is about. Otherwise you can follow his next expedition on twitter @allthebuses.

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
First published on Western Gazette

15/02/2018

InsTED Talks


Review by: Paul Towers, 15 February 2018
InsTED Talks - part of the Leicester Comedy Festival
Written and performed by Mark Vigil
Upstairs @ The Western, 15 February 2018

“highly talented comedian Mark Vigil”

TED Talks are those cringe-worthy corporate inspirational talks so beloved of company middle management.
Under the pretext of providing TED Talks by various people highly talented comedian Mark Vigil presented us with four very different characters in one show.
First up was ‘inspirational speaker’ Zack Goodman, a preppy, over confident New Yorker who doesn’t quite believe the rubbish he is spouting. He is like a bad Youtube-er with verbal diarrhoea. His constant back tracking and admission that he has copied and pasted everyone else’s ideas was hilarious. Add into the mix some clever original songs and this was a very strong character.
Next up we stepped back in time to the year 2000 and dropped in to a product launch TED Talk by the CEO of Nokia, before it created its own obsolescence. This was especially funny for those of us over 30 and able to remember when Nokia was a field leader in mobile phones. The accompanying PowerPoint presentation only added to the hilarity.
Next up, and back in the present day, we were introduced to the bargain basement Bear Grylls, Jolyon Kean, an intrepid explorer who, in a desperate attempt to get some BBC airtime, has blagged a commission to document some of the crappist towns in the UK. Flicking through his camera of bad selfies, he shows us round the dregs of Dover and the perils of Trip Advisor. All great fun.
The final character in Vigil’s compendium of characters is Walter Cundy, an old Hollywood songwriter who seems to have appropriated the works of many famous names. To my mind this was the least strong character of the night.
That said, this was an evening of great hilarity with mostly strong, funny characters presented to a sold out audience. Well worth catching when he is next in the city. Mark is part of The Same Faces improv group and full details of his and their appearances can be found on their FaceBook page, The Same Faces.

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
First published on Western Gazette

11/02/2018

Graduation Day 2018


Review by: Paul Towers, 11 February 2018
Graduation Day 2018
Dan Nicholas with Matt West, Kevin Hudson, Sarah Davis, Martin England & Matt Holmes with headliner Tom Houghton
Upstairs @ The Western, 11 February 2018

“2018 Graduation Day.”

For logistical reasons there were no Comedy Workshops in 2017 but they are hoping to resume them this year. So, as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival and for the 2018 Graduation Day gig three acts from the class of 2016/17 returned along with a distant voice from the 2015/16 term and two new faces to make up the evening, along with a headliner.
Dan Nicholas, as always, compered the evening with aplomb and warmed the audience up for the night ahead.
First on stage was firm favourite Sarah Davis with a beautifully scripted routine about valentine’s day and elderly cyclists (not specifically connected but, hearing of her luck, maybe).
Next up was mortgage advisor Matt West who, after failing to interest anyone with a low interest mortgage gave us chapter and verse on his recent marriage
New face Martin England filled us in on the perils of being only 5’4” and various rambling tales of his life.
After an interval we were back with Kevin Hudson, the Terry Pratchett lookalike whose sharp routines about turning into a grumpy old man and being a technophobe chimed with many in the audience. Since his debut last year he has scripted some great stories that culminated in groan-worthy puns.
As per last year Kevin’s Pratchett clone was followed by Gavin Pilchard, aka Death, with his tried and tested routine railing against working long hours and a demanding wife.
Finally we had a headline act in the shape of Tom Houghton, a very assured young stand up who is like the James Blunt of comedy. Tales of boarding school, being an army child and the only straight boy on his drama course had the audience roaring.
Daniel Nicholas is at The Exchange on 13th February and at The Attenborough Centre on the 14th. Details can be found at www.danielnicholas.co.uk
Kevin Hudson can be seen at Soft Touch Arts on 17th February.

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
First published on Western Gazette



09/02/2018

Nina and Me


Review by: Paul Towers, 09 February 2018
Nina – by Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE
Unity Theatre production starring Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE
Curve Studio 9/10 February 2018

“an awesome voice”

Last year I went to London’s West End to see Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a magnificent show that featured the songs of Billy Holliday interwoven with her tragic life story; two hours of informative entertainment.
Nina Simone was of a similar generation and also struggled with the inherent racism that blighted 20th century America so I was hoping that Nina would similarly be a catalogue of Ms Simone’s numbers interspersed with biographical background. With a show that was scheduled to run for 1hr 20mins there was scope for a whole slew of her songs.
Unfortunately it was an hour into the evening before we got any semblance of  her back catalogue and then only a 30 minute ‘concert’ making very good use of the onstage 3 piece band. The first hour was taken up with a prolonged rant about racism, then and now, and the author’s identification with Nina’s racial struggles.
There is no doubt that Josette Bushell-Mingo has an awesome voice, and there is no doubt that the evils of racism need to be addressed. Maybe I am at fault for not reading the promotional literature more carefully but I felt short changed by only getting 11 songs and what came across as an evangelical lecture on racism.
Nina is on at Curve again tomorrow, Saturday 10 February. Although it is sold out the box office may get some returns.
First published on Western Gazette







08/02/2018

Accumulator


Review by: Paul Towers, 08 February 2018
Accumulator by Ross Brierley
Leicester Comedy Festival
Upstairs @ The Western, 8 Feb 2018

“ laddish self deprecation.”

Ross Brierley has finally got his dream job. For 15 years he has been a betting man and for half that time he has been able to make a living at it.
Accumulator is a collection of tales of his steady climb from dead end jobs just to put food on the table all the way to actually earning enough from gambling to say goodbye to the call centres and shelf stacking of his youth.
With a laddish self deprecation Ross makes no bones about the roller coaster that being a professional gambler entails.
This is Ross’ first comedy show in the festival. His The Not So Late Show is on at the Attenborough Arts Centre tomorrow, Fri 9th Feb also as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Upstairs at The Western’s contribution to the Leicester Comedy Festival is in full swing with shows from Richard Massara, Jack Campbell, The Same Faces, Dan Nicholas, Tom Young and Drag Queen Bingo. And that is just the next 5 days! There is a full programme of shows right through the festival. Full details on the website

Upstairs at The Western http://upstairsatthewestern.com/
http://ptheatre.blogspot.co.uk/
First published on Western Gazette