Norman Lovett Slideshow Show
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Norman Lovett, best known for his role as Holly in cult sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf, would like us to see some of the photos he's taken.
They fascinate him and he'll induce tears of laughter through exquisite timing and perfectly judged commentary on his slideshow.
There’s not a lot of confusion as to what this show’s about. Norman Lovett literally shows us slides for an hour and passes dry comment on them all. For anyone who has every sat through a friend’s interminable holiday snaps, this doesn’t sound the most exciting prospect on the Fringe.
And Lovett’s not one for capturing dramatic landscapes or heart-stopping drama. Here’s a picture of his tumble drier, or an empty box left outside a house near his Balham home, or a vandalised parking machine. Mundane is the name of his game.
For the most part, the images don’t even illustrate a story or serve some greater purpose, it’s just things that make him go ‘hmmm’. If Seinfeld was a show about nothing, this is
about even less than that.
But don’t let this description put you off. Lovett is the master of the dour, underplayed comment, making a virtue out of his boredom with life, and he manages to elicit some good laughs out of this seemingly unpromising premise.
Nothing needs to be said about some of the pictures. Bad road markings, funny signs or adverts for crap products from the classified pages of the Saturday newspapers speak for themselves. ‘Look at that!’ he sighs as he shares another bit of oddness. Sometimes you wonder why comedians bother to write material when a picture of a dog in the bath gets a laugh.
But about others Lovett’s unconventionally fertile mind constructs elaborate, if unlikely stories. His mini-drama based on the trees of Clapham Common is inspired. He imagines the sort of person who drives the cars he sees, or who would write ‘Jesus Lives’ in the dust.
Mostly they’re just quirky fantasy, but when it’s his own kitchen roll holder, or drab out-of-season holiday camp where he’s attending a sci-fi convention because of his Red Dwarf role, there is a real tale to tell. Sometimes he’ll catch sight of something he doesn’t like, and moan: ‘That makes me so angry…’ But fury’s not in his emotional vocabulary. ‘Slightly disappointed,’ would probably be a better reflection.
It’s all very gentle stuff, and not all of it works, but over the course of the hour, Lovett has the avuncular warmth to make the audience feel part of a club where the boring and the unexceptional is quietly celebrated. It’ll be too slow for some, but it’s certainly well-intentioned.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett