Tony Law: Enter The Tonezone | Review by Steve Bennett
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Tony Law: Enter The Tonezone

Review by Steve Bennett

It might not seem it, as he stands there in a flimsy skin-tight onesie decorated with cut-up neckerchiefs, wearing a rabbit hat and blowing inexpertly into a trombone. But there’s a point to Tony Law’s new show.

Sure, he sports the usual look, partway between homeless and Glastonbury mushroom casualty, and for a good half-hour he indulges in the same loose dicking around that his fans have come to expect, complete with commentary about just how ill-prepared and random it all is. Law’s a man who makes a virtue of the fact he needs to glance at his notebook (yes, he has scripted this nonsense) or his reluctance to banter with the audience, believing mutual trepidation is the correct state of affairs between performer and audience.

He moves between various ideas, only semi-committed to any of them save for the rhythmic dance routine, but the fluid, fervent nature of the bizarre activity is a boon, keeping us – and even him, it sometimes seems – constantly surprised. Oh look, there’s the old steamboat horn; now he’s pretending to transcend time. Non-sequiturs abound – you’d be very hard-pressed to spot a sequitur in any of this.

We’re all aware that this is foolishness, a safe manifestation of insanity. If he knows it’s nuts, he must OK, right? So, definitely not a nervous breakdown, just a man being silly and entertaining.

But it turns out he has had a emotionally tough experience in the past year which could have had a traumatic impact on his psyche. And it raised all sorts of harrowing memories, not to mention dark thoughts of mortality, that could have made him this strange way.

He admits to being scared about telling an honest story from his own life, a major departure from the surreal fun-and-games that is his stock in trade. Very occasionally he chucks in a well-telegraphed comic embellishment to sugar the pill, including a silly payoff that dissipates the tension with a big laugh, but mostly this is true. And that honesty adds heft to his escapades and an emotional core to the nonsense.

Hidden away is the idea that society’s rituals, however peculiar they seem, are all born from ways of coping with tougher moments… and screw it if he can’t create a few new rituals of his own, here on this stage. Our time in existence is limited and probably futile. So why not pass an hour of it being foolish in the presence of a man who long abandoned the idea of conformist decorum?

Review date: 7 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 3 and 4

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