Tim Minchin in Winchester

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

OK, so Tim Minchin doesn’t really need another review at this point, but who would turn down the chance of witnessing him perform a one-off ‘greatest hits’ gig in an intimate, 400-seat theatre?

This show is for the Winchester Comedy Festival. But about four months late, as that event was back in October. Or eight months early for the next one, if you’re more of a forward thinker.

Minchin had to pull out last year, admitting now that he had a ‘substantially better offer’ to star as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. But he honours his commitments, so this date was rescheduled.

Judging by his physical condition, he’d have been justified in pulling this one too. He’s doped up on off-the-shelf medication (plus a couple of glasses of a robust red) to combat a bug that clearly leaves him befuddled. He stumbles over a couple of numbers, notably Thank You God, which demands clarity of diction in its tightly-packed lyrics, and oftenseems out of sorts.

But his vulnerability endears, and also leads to a couple of unique experiences... such as when a small audience disturbance throws him during the nine-minute beat poem Storm. Halting the piece renders the backing track useless – and he has to provide his own moody jazz background on the grand piano, which is a nice treat. But the lack of the recording robs him of his audio cues, and several times he loses his place - to be rescued by some dedicated (or scary) fans who know the work much better than he.

Other hits on the playlist included the autobiographical Rock N Roll Nerd, the catchy ear-worm Prejudice, the disturbingly honest and increasingly maniacal Lullaby, the misleading Cont and rock epic Dark Side – not to mention the newly re-topical Pope Song ‘to be retired on February 28’. As if.

Betwixt songs, his banter sometimes became meandering, but when he caused embarrassment for one teenage girl out with her parents, it may have mortifying for her, but it was highly amusing for the rest of us. Even when he falters, Minchin has a winning ‘forgive me’ grin that works a treat, that’s also deployed when he performs his more contentious material.

Even under the weather, Minchin makes for a compelling showman; and he must have been enjoying the show as much as the audience, for instead of the allocated 80 minutes, he actually ran for two hours, whatever the demands on his ailing throat. What a trooper.

Review date: 14 Feb 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Winchester Theatre Royal

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