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Mark Allen's Go Slow

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

There’s an intriguing premise behind Mark Allen’s fourth Edinburgh offering, but unfortunately it doesn’t gel into anything more than a gently enjoyable show.

Worried that the pace of modern life with its instant status updates, constant mobile phone communications and general hustle and bustle was making him dangerously stressed, gadget-loving Allen decided to slow down the pace of his life for a month. The idea that he would take one technological step backwards – for example using the bus rather than the Tube – to see if he wound up more relaxed.

Whatever he was like before, he doesn’t exactly come across as highly strung now. As an amiable Everyman raconteur, he recounts typical situations such as running desperately for a train, only for it to remain motionless on the platform for minutes afterwards, with a certain elan. But while such descriptions might be relatable, he doesn’t add a huge amount of comic value to them.

It’s the same with the results of his experiments. He recalls a few specific instances when things were slightly different, such as the difficulty in contacting his wife via payphones or describing the joys of sending and receiving handwritten letters rather than emails, but we’re not led to feel anything was particularly different in his life either during or after. The routine therefore comes across more as detached commentary on modern life than a convincing description of his personal experiences, so there’s no real journey for the audience to go on.

That said he’s engaging company with some nice asides and witty lines (though can we please now have a moratorium on the increasingly hack gag ‘If there’s no one like that in your group – then it’s you!’) And the big joke of the show is a nice touch, though it does rather rely on you noticing the set-up, which I had to admit I hadn’t.

It’s a reasonable enough way of killing some time… but then by Allen’s relaxed logic, you should simply have to enjoy that time for its own merits anyway.

Review date: 20 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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