Idea for new commandment: thou shalt not waste people’s time
I’d rather be nailed to a cross than see this show again. Whereas Jesus turned water into wine, Joshua Ladgrove has performed a sort of comedic opposite, turning a juicy idea into one of the most insubstantial shows I’ve ever seen.
That idea is this: that the crowd is invited to shout of heckles or questions at Ladgrove, who is indeed dressed as Christ and standing upright against a crucifix. It could have been interesting even if it wasn’t funny. It turned out to be neither on the night I attended.
The show is set up for failure. Firstly, there was no wit or flair to Ladgrove’s responses, I don’t think any of them made me laugh. And secondly, no slow-baked laughs emerge from his characterisation, because the “Christ” persona is so flimsy there virtually is no persona. In fact half the time Ladgrove seems to forget that he’s pretending to be Jesus at all – which takes some doing when you’re taped to a cross and wearing a frigging toga – and answers as himself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How about this for a zinger: “What’s your favourite Radiohead album?” “Ok Computer.” What?! What are we … who are we watching here? This isn’t a comedy show it’s an awkward date.
Into the comedy vacuum steps the audience. They start trying to be funny with their questions. It’s depressingly studenty stuff – who would win out of a fight between Chuck Norris and Jesus? Are you wearing pants? The trouble with this is that Ladgrove stands even less chance of coming up with anything funny, because instead of the questions being feeder lines, they’re meant to be jokes themselves. What’s he supposed to do with them?!
Consequently it very quickly became a non-entity of a show. Just attention-seekers shouting inanities for 60 minutes. The idea of letting the audience directs things is a cop-out; it badly needs some sort of shepherding. Imagine if it was Phil Kay or Tony Law or Arthur Smith or Adam Riches that had this idea and developed it. Then we might have had something.
There was one point when we nearly did have something. “Which is your favourite side of the room?” Ooh. I like it. This could go somewhere fun. We could’ve ended up in a pray-off or something. Something. ANYTHING. Instead, Ladgrove poured cold Christian water on it. “I like you both equally,” he said. Oh so now he starts pretending to be Jesus.
Review by Paul Fleckney