Paul Kerensa's 26

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

After July 7, Paul Kerensa must have been left in a difficult position with his impending Edinburgh full-length debut, considering that its premise was the simulation of a terrorist attack. 

Whether it was rewritten or not, what could have been a very interesting concept has turned out to bee something far less focused. 

Taking inspiration from his favourite TV show, 24, Kerensa has developed a mini counter-terrorist unit within the Underbelly.  Throughout the show, he is forced to avert  a major threat, while constantly having to consider, ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’

The main problem with the show is that the actual ‘threat’ – and so the main thrust of the show’s narrative – does not emerge until late in the hour.  As a result, it feels slightly simplistic and contrived.  Rather than being slowly developed, the theme appears as if it has been shoe-horned into the show to fit the title and gimmick.

Considering that much of the other time is filled with routines from Kerensa’s normal stand-up set, it looks as if crucial parts of the show had to substituted last-minute.

Despite this, there is still evidence of Kerensa’s potential to produce imaginative full-length shows.  His use of a video screen to ‘report back’ from around the festival is innovative and interesting, although not as funny as it could be.  He also demonstrates good use of other sound and light effects, although again these are more suggestions of  potential which do not quite work this year.

This is all a huge shame then, as Kerensa is a wildly talented comic.  Even despite the relative failure of his show’s concept, he is still funny enough to keep things interesting.  His on-stage presence is one of the most amiable and unthreatening around, whilst his writing is often uniquely left of field and introduces concepts (simultaneous equations, anyone?) that a lot of his peers could not even imagine.

Overall, this seems to be a case of bad timing for Kerensa as he is much better than this show would suggest.  Big things await this man, but just not this year.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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