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Andrew Maxwell: The Lamp - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Andrew Maxwell is shamelessly honest about his state of mind. ‘I’m hungover as fuck,’ he announces huskily at the start of his 9pm show. ‘I just got up an hour and a half ago and am still very much drunk.’

It perhaps explains why this performance lacks a certain sparkle. There are some excellent routines here, but it does feel as if the playful Dubliner is running below full capacity.

Still we warm to him – and not necessarily because of the well-intentioned but clearly insincere compliments he pays us as an audience. To be honest, the room is even more subdued than he is, but we’re happy to have metaphorical smoke blown up our collective arse.

It’s his attitude that endears him: he initially seems intense, but soon proves cheeky and upbeat. ‘Pesky’ might be a good adjective. His unusual stage garb – vest and shorts revealing his scrawny, pasty frame – also adds to the self-deprecating air.

There’s no theme to the show – the lamp simply being a stage prop he lays his hands on whenever he’s doing any ethically dubious material, as if to send any evil juju into its magical confines.

He turns to it most on his paedophile material – two words that might suggest lazy shock comedy, but it turns out Maxwell has an inventive solution to internet, child porn, even if his idea for a pervert-based talent show might not quite make primetime. Almost as good is his mischievous enthusiasm for being the face of erectile dysfunction in Ireland, after the drug companies were foolish enough to approach him for the role.

Equally the train of thought set in motion once he discovered most gun crime involved replica firearms certainly goes along some underused branch lines; although not everything is as thoughtful as that. Wank material, anyone?

At one point, Maxwell praises the Somalian pirates for their pizzazz in taking on gargantuan container ships from their tiny dinghies, and even a sub-prime Maxwell has that in spades, selling his provocative yet optimistic material with a cheeky chumminess, and exaggerating every line by stretching the emphatic vowels until they almost snap.

But even that’s not enough to convince us that the Russian doll finale is anything less than pathetically indulgent. Like those toys, there’s many more layers to Maxwell than you might first think… even if some of them were missing tonight, left behind during the previous night’s drinking session.

Review date: 25 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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