In my last post, in which I took considerably pleasure in venting about a day and a half's moderate frustration at a book I hadn't expected to be good, I also promised a review of the comedy show I saw, DNCG: Jack Britton's Discussion Kitchen.
“How exciting,” I imagine nobody said, although if you did by all means inform me, “a review of something in the theatre.”
This is that review.
Jack Britton's Discussion Kitchen, the third in the Dan Nicholas' Conversation Garden series (the first two I have regrettably not seen) and the first of three in that series taking place during the Leicester Comedy Festival, was a comedy chat show/triple act show intercut at various points with kitchen and balloon themed burlesque.
It advertises itself as a chat show in which random audience members are interviewed using random audience-submitted questions, and the chat show sections are indeed a lot of fun, with host Jack Britton exploring a guest's story of firing a firework out of a chicken, and searching through audience questions only to immediately draw out a post-it note simply reading 'Don't ask me that.' That they're improvised is clear, unavoidable and, I should think, surely inherent to the concept: There is nothing more obnoxious than a scripted chat show, especially one that proclaims randomness, so it was pleasant to see that, no, the audience members were truly picked at random, as were the questions, and the chatting that resulted was organic. The three performers have more than enough charisma both individually and as a group to pull off the improvisation, so it works well.
But the show's main strength is the interplay between its three performers, and the scripted sections between chat segments that highlight that. Each performer plays, at least to some degree, a comedic role, with Dan Nicholas providing stony-faced and often brutal deadpan to Jack Britton's affable ebullience and Lewys Holt's gormless cheer. Arguably, some of the show's best moments come from sections that force the three into absurd situations, such as Dan Nicholas' retelling of Orpheus (which would have been funny enough on its own, with a Hades that is deeply confused by Orpheus) taking place on a revolving 'storytelling disk', and Jack Britton's failed attempt to do the same (resulting in a haiku, which, we are informed by a furious Nicholas, should instead have been done on a 'haiku ropeladder').
The burlesque performances that provided occasional breaks from the comedy, allowing for at least one costume change, were impressive – Bella Bardot and Marilyn Minx, who performed them, brought flair and personality to the dances.
The only true test of a comedy show, though, has to be whether it makes you laugh, and as you can probably guess from my earlier enthusiasm, it did: I was easily in stitches throughout the majority of the show, and nearly three days on I'm still finding myself chuckling at the memory of certain parts. So I'd call that a resounding success.
Dan Nicholas' Conversation Garden has two more shows coming up this month, with the next one being Lewys Holt's Banter Bathroom on the 14th at The Criterion, Leicester. Similarly, Upstairs at the Western, the delightful theatre that this show was performed at (it's above a pub, don't – don't tell me that's not delightful) has several shows coming up in the near future, which can be found on its website. Do a google search.
Meanwhile, I am going to proceed to wonder if the views for this post will break me past one-hundred pageviews. Just eight more to go. Just eight more.