The Ed Weeks Variety

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Character comic Ed Weeks excels in the guise of the socially awkward, middle-class man-child; the immature twentysomething more comfortable with practical jokes and pop culture than with anything as frightening unpredictable as adult human relationships.

It's a mine he exploits most effectively in the show's recurring gag, as he attempts to woo a woman who's caught his eye, first trying to trick her into a date, then embarrassing himself appallingly at their every encounter.

The caricature reaches his zenith as the inept Weeks tries eagerly but thoughtlessly to bond with the girl's gay friend by singing Elton John lyrics or camping up his innuendoes to an extent that would shame Graham Norton.

Yet the discomfort is not played out through the vogueish realism started by The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm, but with a broad comic exaggeration that proves most effective. In this persona, Weeks process a fine comic presence, with an ironic glint in his eye as he plays up the extremes of his behaviour as exposed in some fine writing.

Things are less certain, however, when he attempts to move away from this. For rather than being content to stay in the realm of the reliable character actor, he attempts to showcase his acting range in a more diverse set of situations.

Thus we get such extreme creations as the El Savalorian stand-up, the Oedipally warped headmaster or the possessed IT nerd ­ ideas that sound good on paper, but aren't quite fleshed out enough, nor written strongly enough, to really convince as anything more than two-dimensional sketch characters, serving only one moderate joke. They are certainly well executed, but their heart seems empty.

There are skillful flourishes, though, in almost every scene. The sketch concerning the demanding Latin American diva, parent of our Spanish-speaking stand-up, for example, is made by an almost inconsequential visual gag.

Weeks is supported in his endeavours by Sophie Black, who deadpans marvellously as the object of Weeks' bumbling affections, and Matt Green, a young stand-up accurately described in the show as 'looking suspiciously like a Quentin Blake drawing' whose features are made for comedy, ideally in the role of feeble, put-upon geek that this show demands.

A lot of things about Ed Weeks Variety - Edinburgh Fringe 2006 at Chortle.co.uk">The Ed Weeks Variety say 'quality' ­ the acting, the assured directorial hand of Ben Willbond and the painstaking attention to comic detail. While examining the minutiae they may have overlooked some of the bigger picture, ie the flaws in the characters, but overall it's an impressive full-length debut for a man who ­ when in his element, at least ­ has plenty to offer.

Steve Bennett

 

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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