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Rhod Gilbert And The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Rhod Gilbert is back after his if.comedy nomination: one year older, one year more mature, one year more mellow.

Is he heck.

He is, as ever, mad as hell and not going to take it any more; a man driven to the brink of breakdown by all life’s infuriations that are conspiring to bring him down. After mince pies and duvets last year, now it’s Hoovers, washing machines and Innocent smoothies that are the agents of the devil – as well as reviewers who dare suggest that the all-consuming troubles which vex him are anything but mighty problems.

Gilbert takes observational comedy to whole new levels. It’s not just ‘what’s the deal with no-bio washing powder’, but he obsesses and obsesses about the very idea, over-analysing it and becoming increasingly desperate for answers, and frustrated when they don’t come.

The starting points are brilliantly accurate, but it’s the maelstrom of angst he whips up around them that sweep you up, thanks to the powerful, passionate performance big enough to fill the larger venues Gilbert is increasingly playing.

Scarily intense, he’s keen to reassure himself it’s not just him who gets angry at such annoyances, pleading: ‘You are on my side, aren’t you?’ as he sinks ever-deeper into the mire of fixation. It builds a bond that helps get over a couple of the more unlikely leaps into insanity.

The show – whose title is too esoteric to go into here - is also magnificently structured. What appears like a series of madman’s manic rants are gradually given meaning, as Gilbert’s more deep-seated psychological problems become apparent, revealing the source of his Intermittent Explosive Disorder. If stand-up is therapy, we certainly make progress in this session.

We start with a bit of lightweight Wales-based banter and a recap of last year’s gripes, and along the way learn about the flight-or-fight mechanism – the only bit of the show that does feel tacked on to the main thrust, callbacks notwithstanding – before the rage cranks up to vein-popping levels.

But rarely has fury been so audacious – or so funny.

Review date: 11 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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