Hippo Concerto (a stand-up show)

Mon 5th – Wed 7th October 2015

reviews

Eleanor Costello

at 00:53 on 6th Oct 2015

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If there is one thing that I learnt from this evening, it’s that you should never agree to review a play without first checking what it is that you are reviewing. Hippo Concerto is an hour-long one-man comedy sketch show featuring Theo Wethered, and within the confined space of the Corpus Playroom - sat inches away from the performer - it’s painfully easy for such comedy shows to become awkward and drawn-out. With the looming threat of audience interaction and uncomfortable eye-contact with the comedian, I crossed my fingers and prayed that my fears were unfounded and I would soon be doubled over in stitches. I feel really awful for saying it, because I really wanted to be proved wrong, but I just didn’t find it funny.

The sketch was a mixture of dry stand-up comedy, surreal anecdotes, and almost pantomimic slap-stick humour. The stand-up comedy was by far the strongest part of the sketch, with self-depreciating lines and wry unscripted comments whenever things didn’t go to plan, evoking loud laughter from the audience. Anecdotes about psychological experiments and his Gran were mildly humorous, but a section focusing on an absurd and obviously untrue tale about his father left my face like stone – I couldn’t find the humour. But it was the slap-stick comedy that just really didn’t work. Running around the stage throwing balls in the air, getting annoyed when his technician ‘accidentally’ kept playing music – I wished I could have given my ticket to a ten-year old who would have found it hilarious, but it didn’t hit the right note for an adult audience.

The only redeeming feature was the charismatic and, to be quite frank, adorable leading man. Theo reminded me of the boy who was in Nanny MacPhee and Love Actually (the cute skinny blonde one). He was barefoot in blue paisley pyjamas, running his hand nervously through his short blonde hair and looking up at the audience with puppy-dog brown eyes. The sketch was watchable because of the endearing and warm protagonist, whom it was impossible to dislike, and kept the audience engaged. Indeed, at one point he walks around in his boxers, which certainly perked things up. However, despite Theo’s great likability, the piece just didn’t hit the right note. More than once he messed up his lines, and you could almost sense the audience willing him on to a peak that the piece never quite reached. Perhaps it was nerves that marred the piece, which is a shame because there were flashes of potential and glimpses of brilliance that weren’t quite consummated. A watchable evening, but not a funny one.

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