James Dowdeswell: 7

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

James Dowdeswell is a real master of the comedian’s craft, being able to almost seamlessly layer joke upon joke upon joke to form this wonderful and often hilarious one-man show. 

Dowdeswell heard somewhere that if you observe a boy at the age of seven, then you will be able to map out his entire life from there.  Taking this as his premise, he investigates how he has lived at stages of his life between the ages of seven and 28.

Therefore, the show begins with personal observations about what motivated him to embark upon his project.  He has a new girlfriend, who is often shocked at the company he keeps, which has led to the routine of meeting parents and having to explain his background, questioning who he really is. 

Of course, these opening routines about Tooting, Australia and Ikea are an excuse for Dowdeswell to get the audience on his side before embarking upon the main concept.  However, he succeeds with flair, convincing easily with some lovely uses of imagery and metaphor.

From here, Dowdeswell discusses his self at seven-year intervals, giving him room to repeatedly illustrate both his talent for finding comedy lines in the most unlikely of memories and a  unique verbal manner of expressing them. 

At one memorable moment, when he describes his mother’s actions involving the withering of his marijuana plant, the culminating line is a beautiful combination of sarcasm and fairytale.  It is this slightly surreal turn-of-phrase that makes Dowdeswell such a distinctive act.  

There is a slight problem with the show, as occasionally the subject matter strays away from Dowdeswell himself and into more generally nostalgic areas.  This is almost insignificant, however, as everything is still kept original and his comic talent keeps the laughter rate high enough for it not to matter.

By the time Dowdeswell neatly summarises everything at the show’s bittersweet conclusion in a manner that is effective but not contrived, it is clear that he has this year created something that is really quite special.  It is a genuine pleasure to be in the company of this master gagsmith for an hour, an experience that few should really pass up.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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