Tim Minchin

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

After conquering Edinburgh, Australian musical comedy sensation Tim Minchin has made it to London's West End in a proper theatre, albeit on a Sunday when the regular play isn't on. The programme promises his successful 2005 Fringe show in part one, with his 2006 offering after the interval.

Minchin's stage persona is naturally awkward, yet beneath this he seems genuinely uncomfortable in this setting. The fact that he's doing only scattered dates, without his usual equipment or the comfort of more technical preparation, is probably something to do with it. He also reveals that he's expecting to become a father any minute, the anticipation of which, undoubtedly, has affected his balance.

The performance is not as straightforward as running through one hour-long show after the other, either, as each original show had a natural welcoming song and came to an end with a more sentimental number. The two introductory pieces are moved together at the top of the show and the two closing songs conjoined at the tail. The result feels awkwardly cobbled together, with both introductory pieces requiring similar sorts of audience participation, for example.

Sections have clearly dated, too. Some of what Minchin is selling is genuine in one moment is revealed to be obsolete in the next, which loses him momentum. First he tells us he is sick of hearing about other people's kids; later he reveals his burgeoning paternal pride.

The spoken side of his act has never been the strongest and some of the new links falter, but even his more solid routines would only class as average stand-up.

But it’s the music in which he excels, and the near-capacity crowd immediately warms to this talented Australian. No wonder: his songs are packed with ideas, craftsmanship, sentiment and virtuoso musicianship. Minchin can do more in one song than most comedians can pack into a ten-minute spoken routine.

With a cod-Gershwin tribute to a sex doll (Inflatable You), the relentlessly logical Peace Anthem For Palestine and the confusing package of mixed metaphor and passion, You Grew On Me, this is an excellent evening's entertainment from a refreshingly original performer.

He is obsessed with sex, relationships, religion and politics, but Minchin's distinctive outlook results in a top-quality show, which, given his meticulous attention to detail, he will undoubtedly hone even further over his time in the West End.

Reviewed by: Ashley Frieze
November 16, 2006

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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