Manchester Comedy Festival: The WART Show

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

The anarchic, chaotic spirit of early alternative comedy lives on in Lee Fenwick and Peter Slater’s WART show. Like the acts in those formative early-Eighties years, the results are as often terrible as they are hilarious, but it’s the wildly unpredictable nature of this shambolically put-together night that is its strength.

An acronym for We Accept Raw Talent, the shabby evening offers a smorgasbord of experimental character comedy, with guest contributions from other circuit comics of the north-west, including Keith Carter and Dominic Woodward. A Halloween special, tonight’s offerings are loosely based on horror movies – ‘loose’ being an adjective you can apply to pretty much everything on this bill.

One moment you might be witnessing the Darth Maul Orchestra – a man in a Star Wars mask bashing away at a non-working Stylophone – the next you can be watching a man throwing Shreddies into a makeshift vortex.

Fenwick made an appearance as his ex-shipyard worker Mick Sergeant, now a stand-up after passing a comedy course. Often a creation that’s riddled with pathos, he was in more workmanlike mode tonight, introducing the rogues’ gallery in the first half.

Slater, meanwhile, was at his best with Sir Arthur Conan The Barbarian, a drunken old actor whose anecdotes are secondary to his OCD-like behaviour, making a fine display of subtle exaggeration.

Stand-up Susan Vale made a couple of appearances, first as boot-wearing feminist poet Poppy Cherry, a parody of the sort of act you don’t see much of any more, while she evoked more nostalgia with her idea of a Fall tribute band, whose uncanny accuracy was somewhat lost on the small audience who’d largely never heard of Mark E Smith and his rough-and-ready post-punk outfit. Their loss.

The haphazard night also featured filmed inserts such as the lovingly-made parody Zombie Shit House; Ward Kennedy, a well-realised moviegoer with a nerdy obsession with continuity errors; and Christian hip-hop duo C-Rap, who couldn’t really do much better than the weak joke in their title. And the ‘what happened next’ movie quiz struggled, despite unearthing some genuinely weird horror footage.

You couldn’t accuse the WART show of being short on ideas, even if some of those ideas will probably – and quite rightly – never see the light of day again. The evening’s baffling and messy, but then that’s the point. There are some uncut gems in there, if you don’t mind scrabbling around in the mess to get to them.

Review date: 25 Oct 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Manchester Lass O’Gowrie

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.