Adam Of The Riches | Review by Steve Bennett
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Adam Of The Riches

Review by Steve Bennett

Adam Riches is the sort of character comedian that should make almost all the others think about packing up their wigs and props and skedaddling out of town.

It’s not because he has a great acting range – his characters run the full gamut from alpha to alpha with the brusque, domineering manner they all share – but because he commits so intensely to the creations, and to the chaos they cause. Always in the moment, bending and warping the show around the reactions of the few chosen to be part of the action, he creates a raw, unpredictable energy that fizzles around the room. Exciting is the only word for it.

This is his first new show since the one that won him the big award three years ago, and very little has changed. Daniel Day-Lewis is out, but Sean Bean is in – a perfect parody of the gruff Yorkshireman’s on-screen career, busting with stupidly macho lines and acknowledging some of his less successful career choices. And he’s not the only Hollywood hero to make a cameo appearance: Ryan Gosling is here, too, with an intensity that’s restrained in comparison to most of Riches’ over-the-top alter egos, but intense it no doubt is. It’s his mum you’ve really got to look out for.

All these are pussies, of course, compared to Victor Legit – the tough guy that makes Bear Grylls look like a koala or The Professionals look like The Amateurs, and all down to his beloved Yakult. Who among this audience is man enough to join Legit in a quest that only the bravest, boldest, and least lucky, would accept?

The front row certainly play a major part in the show; Riches using the threat of participation as crowd control to put any heckler in their place. Making these poor saps part of his extreme sketches brings out the best or worst in them all. Some freeze, evoking increasingly frustrated ire, some play along, to be slapped down for scene-stealing. You might think that there’s no way of winning this demeaning game, but everyone ends up a star for a moment… even if one or two ‘volunteers’ tonight didn’t really live up to the billing.

A couple of his creations don’t quite seem fully-formed yet, but the mixologist or the tattoo man both have enough elements to set up their gross stunts, which is all that is required. And in any case, a man with electric toothbrushes for hands is never not funny. Riches dispenses not only with the fourth wall, but most of the other three as well, skilfully walking a fine line between demolishing the artifice of the situation and providing a running commentary on the gig, without allowing it all to fall into self-referential indulgence.

He does have a bash at one relatively traditional character piece with sleazily manipulative ‘guy you meet just after coming out of a long-term relationship’ – who uniquely among Riches’ creations doesn’t try to molest anyone in the audience; yet is still brilliantly funny.

This is playtime on cocaine, with unforgettably outrageous stunts and a souped-up spirit of knockabout, oddball fun that is as irresistible as ever.

Review date: 10 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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