Alpha Males

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

With Alpha Males, Adam Riches has reinforced his standing as a powerful, charismatic comic actor – even if the writing doesn’t always do justice to his considerable talents.

Last year, he made an unfairly overlooked debut with Victor, in which he played a hard-bitten video piracy investigator from The Sweeney school of crimefighting. That character, Victor Legit, is back, but now as part of an ensemble of brutish macho men seeping testosterone on to the stage.

Riches himself might fall into the same category. Early in his Fringe run, some onstage horseplay went horribly wrong and he broke his foot, and had to be carried out of the venue by paramedics. Well, serious injury wouldn’t floor any of his creations, so it isn’t going to stop him. The show goes on with crutches and wheelchair, Riches cracking gags at the expense of his own incapacity.

Such asides sit well with his affable personality that cracks through the tough veneer of his characters, especially when he chats to the audience. He always rolls with the punches – even uncommunicative volunteers won’t faze him – which gives the hour and taste of fluid spontaneity.

The first character is one of the best, the tough-talking big-game hunter O’Hara, a man of mystery who only every refers to himself in the third person, causing deliberate confusion Riches’ bragging bartender-cum-pervert had his entertaining moments, too, thanks to his lascivious come-ons.

His late-night quiz-show host was less assured, and merely a vessel to say a few naughty words. When Karen Taylor does an archetype better than you, you know you’re in trouble – and that’s the case here. Similarly, his ageing ex-boy bad member has a few sly digs at the conventions of the genre, but it’s no longer fertile comic territory.

Burly, hard-as-Chuck-Norris Legit is still the high point with his perpetual posturing, even if the climactic showdown he provides is rather similar to last year’s. However, so few people saw that, maybe he can get away with it again.

Riches’ creations are robust not just in constitution, but in their skilful portrayal; even when good gags aren’t forthcoming, he fills each and every one of them with believability. There’s surely a great vehicle out there awaiting his powerful talents.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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