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David Longley: No Going Back – Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Dave Longley delivers his show speaking softly, without microphone, while sitting down. High-energy, it’s not – but the intimate setting in the tiny Stand 4 does draw the audience towards him, making them lean in to hear his thoughtful material.

Yin Yang philosophy, attitudes towards people with Down’s Syndrome and the responsibilities of fatherhood are examined, alongside more obvious comedy subjects as anal beads and coprophilia, the deriving of sexual pleasure from pooh.

With such measured but assured performance and his mixing of the sublime and the banal around a considered central argument, Longley could almost be a white Reginald D Hunter.

The topic he’s chosen, decisions and their consequences, is universal. Everything we do, is something we decided to do, so he’s not exactly limiting his options with that as a theme. But, after the impressive profanity-laced opener about the grammar of swearing, the disparate routines are weaved seamlessly together into a monologue that flows easily around his subjects.

Longley’s own decisions come under the spotlight, too, with the frankest insights coming when he considers his impending fatherhood, two months ago, which raised questions of abortion and how to raise his children, as well as evoking memories of the taunting he suffered in his own youth because of a condition that affected his penis. Yes, it is that honest.

Longley largely does the below-the-belt stuff with a quiet intelligence, although he did revel in the disgusting images thrown up on that coprophilia routine which, with a different delivery, would seem more at home in a rowdy late-night club than this otherwise thought-provoking hour. On the other end of the spectrum, there are moments that end up being a little too slow when discussion overtakes punchlines as the primary objective.

But this 30-year-old mostly charts a steady course between those extremes, producing a solid hour of interesting material. It’s hard to think it’s the same act who just two years ago found himself in the eye of a media storm because of an ill-judged Madelaine McCann gag. This is so much smarter than that, and so much smarter than the average Fringe show.

Review date: 17 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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