Not even Quantum of Solace had this much padding
Mat Ewins takes you into a world of outlandish spy-thriller fantasy. This James Bond devotee begins his show with the recollection of his death six months previously, and spends the following hour trying to uncover the location of a bomb which, he tells us, has been hidden in the venue.
It’s not an original conceit but the dinner jacket-clad Ewins relies on his youth, energy and a series of sudden twists and turns to carry him through a plot of spider’s web complexity.
“Are you still with me?” he asks at various moments the show, as a digital countdown clock flashes up on the screen behind him, interspersed with clips of his Ian Fleming-inspired derring-do around the world. It is a journey that ranges from Russian spies to pie-loving London taxi drivers – all delivered with a knowing reminder to the audience of “do you know how much that cost?”
As the countdown clock progresses towards zero, however, and the need to find the bomb, it also serves as a reminder to him and his audience of just how hard it is to fill a one-man show.
Ewins tries to make a virtue of the pressure imposed by ticking clock, pulling audience members into helping out with sound effects and employing a series of Harry Hill-style jigs, foot-stomps and songs to pad out the obvious lulls.
It is not, however, enough. Despite his gusto and confident stage presence, Ewins is desperately short of material. He has a good 10 to 20 minutes which he has mercilessly stretched with the result that he is caught between the roles of traditional stand-up, character comedian and arch storyteller.
And when he riffs on the content of his own show – “poor to mediocre whimsy” – he is condemned by his own words. Deconstructing the show is hard enough for experienced acts at the top of their game but, sadly, Ewins is neither.
Review written by Peter Edwards