Lunacy in the slow lane
First up, if you don’t like weird comedy, this isn’t the one for you. The small gaggle of Americans who somehow found their way into Spencer Jones’ show at the Hive would back me up on this.
I quite liked it though. The quality was up and down, but Jones, visually reminiscent of early 1980s Rowan Atkinson with his slightly gurning rubber face and monk-ish hairdo, is rather unique in an increasingly crowded marketplace of post-Tim Key comedy oddballs. Not that Jones is an especially a new act, in fact he has been on the circuit for a while now, and he makes his experience count as he takes his time and fronts it out with his tiny audience.
The show is broadly a tale of domestic turbulence – problems between Jones and his wife – set in his bedsit. Instead of a set, he has a suitcase filled with the sort of crap you’d expect from an abandoned skip – piping insulation, sink plumbing, wall brackets, a box of groan tubes, and so on. He’s pottering around, bored, alone but not lonely, possibly hallucinating, bringing all that bric-a-brac to life. It’s lunacy in the slow lane.
Had Jones’s character been around 20 years ago he could have been cast as a neighbour in Bottom, with his hunchback, white leggings, and I think a nappy underneath. Jones the comic has created a very convincing world for him, and it’s a nice place to be for an hour.
Try telling that to the American contingent, though. A section where Jones pretends to be the builders who are working on his place, full of exaggerated British vernacular and chatting with the audience, appeared to be 100% baffling. For them I think it was downhill after his groan tube material at the start. That was in fairness especially strong, particularly his groan tube-toy baby segue (HACK!).
I’d be interested to see where Jones takes his Herbert.
Review by Paul Fleckney