Mark Olver: Ramble On

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Everyone has moments where they question what they are doing with their life, what are they achieving. Not everyone decides to walk 450 miles from Bristol to Edinburgh, then write a Fringe show about it.

This is exactly what Mark Olver has done. At the age of 33 Olver realised that his greatest achievement was winning the World Cup on a PlayStation and decided to take action. A slideshow of roads and road signs he has passed on his travels flash along the screen, with inspirational quotes from Nietzsche and Robert Louis Stevenson – and less inspirational ones from Olver’s friends and family.

Olver is far from athletic and most of the laughs come from self-depreciating gags about his incompetence with what he thought would be the easy task of having a stroll. Sadly there are not quite enough of these gags to keep the laughter consistent.

There is a Bill Brysonesque quality to some of the anecdotes, the description of characters that Olver has met along the way and the small backwood towns that he has travelled through. He is, at times, almost lyrical with his prose and there is a surprising honesty about his urges to cheat and his ineptitude with tents and maps.

He is equally honest when he loses his place and refers to notes several times during the hour. I feel an opportunity has been missed as he doesn’t use the screen after the opening sequence. A map of the route taken would not only help jog his memory but also allow the audience to visualise the locations of some of his tales more effectively.

This is a worthy story, as not many comedians suffer quite as much as Olver for their art. It is lacking some pace and rhythm and feels more like a meander than a romp, but it achieves its goal of being an interesting and entertaining hour.

Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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