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Tom Bell Begins

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Phill Gillespie

Who says successful gritty reboots can only be applied to comic books, and not to comics? Tom Bell wants to tell us his origins story.

The show begins with video montage and dramatic music as we see the possibilities of Tom Bell as a comic-book hero and slowly journey into his dark world – until Bell suddenly cuts the intro as it was a bit too gritty for him and he's getting a bit scared, so lightens the mood with some audience participation.

Begins is comprised of the classic three acts: the beginning, the struggle and the rising. After sweeping through his childhood and dreams, a main one being that he wanted to grow up in Gotham but instead lived in nearby Kegworth, Leicestershire, Bell builds to his first foray into writing and his first true love. He quickly realises that he must leave Kegworth to fulfil his dreams and maybe find love again. The struggle ensues, wrestling with the dark side of performing ironically misogynistic gags to a crowd taking them seriously and trying to reinvent himself. Ultimately, Bell rises and overcomes these struggles in the most unexpected yet amusing way.

The show maintains an interesting balance, part of it tries to deliver his gritty story reboot, while the rest is self-deprecation through his shambolic nature. Laughs come constantly, and the variety of segments keeps the audience entertaining and engaged without any lulls. Bell successfully pulls off video interaction with Alfred his butler, a multitude of slides, at least three discrete characters, a couple of dances, two songs on his guitar and some impressive montages. Clearly a lot of work has gone into this hour, which is tight, imaginative, well executed and accessible – despite it's geeky premise.

Review date: 16 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Phill Gillespie

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