Bright lad, could do better, says Pete Kelly
It’s almost impossible to dislike Tom Rosenthal. He seems cut from a similar cloth as Jon Richardson – both nice, clean-cut young men who are too obsessional, pedantic and easily irritated to really enjoy their youth. And, also, far too polite to really do anything about that. Rosenthal is endlessly self-deprecating, about everything from his voice to his social ineptness to his nose and clearly desperate that everyone in the audience has a good time. By and large he succeeds, though at times his efforts can be exhausting.
This show has largely arisen from the time Rosenthal spent in Bulgaria filming the sitcom Plebs for ITV2 – as he says, “the natural home of great comedy.” Most of the comedy arises from the difficulty of dealing with dour, and occasionally threatening, Bulgarians who have no time for British politeness or emoting. He gets plenty of mileage out of the country’s very basic form of capitalism – “We have one comedian. He is the comedian” – and has a great set-piece about the intimidating experience of going to a Bulgarian football match. His portrayal of Bulgarian football fans slowly, silently eating seeds has stayed definitely lingers in the mind.
The other great wellspring of comedy during the hour is Danny Dyer: one of Rosenthal’s co-stars in Plebs and a man who shares the Bulgarian tendency towards directness, but lacks one or two social graces. Pretty much any story about Dyer – especially those that involve him calling people “muggy cunts” or waving his manhood with misplaced pride – is funny and Rosenthal mines this valuable resource well. Dyer also provides one of the shows final and best moments, but I wouldn’t want to spoil exactly how.
As a whole, Rosenthal creates a number of very funny moments throughout his show, but it doesn’t quite live up to the manic energy he pours into it. I came away remembering key set-pieces, such as his excellent drawn-out impression of a gargoyle, but instantly forgetting much of the high-speed babbling in between. It’s an enjoyable show, but someone of Rosenthal’s intelligence and performance skills can, and probably will, do much better in the future.
Review written by Pete Kelly
• Tom Rosenthal – Благодаря is at 8.15pm at the Pleasance Courtyard