Joel Dommett: Conquer | Review by Julia Chamberlain
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Joel Dommett: Conquer

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Julia Chamberlain

It may be the Free Festival, but this show felt like An Event from the get-go. With a fabulous, Blue Peter approach to building his own dramatic entrance as the audience piled in, Dommett had the room at ‘Hello’.

This turned out to be a quest show, and you can’t fail to love one of those. He pulls together some traditional comedy-slash-dramatic moves: adolescent diaries, parallel romance, bereavement and being the odd one out of the family, but the key thing is looking for a girl, glimpsed once on the Tube, and finding love in unexpected, or in fact, entirely expected places.

He’s plainly been taking the handsome pills for a long time and he received the kind of screamy girls reception associated with a boy band, at every utterance – and he had the sense not to milk that. Instead his demeanour is sweet-natured, modest and disarmingly camp. The scion of a family of Gloucestershire farmers, at times he sounds disconcertingly like a gay Australian barista. No wonder he left home early.

So, he has presence, looks, charm, but is he funny? The answer is a resounding yes. His self-deprecating stories, drawn from his Adrian Mole-style teenage diaries, his fear of rejection, not unreasonable social shyness and general everyman qualities bring everyone onside. He is he a master of set up and callback, used many times throughout the show, to the extent it began to feel overdone. Obviously it is contrived, in the best sense of the word, but you do begin to feel 'he’s done that thing again' after a while. But it’s a lot of fun. A great storyteller, he also uses slapstick and mime – I wonder if he breaks the mic every night? But his mime of threading a needle to fix a button was a good piece of silent acting.

If I’m scraping around for a criticism, it’s must be that the part where he shows us his technique for trying to cry on stage became strangely drawn-out and awkward – a bit like watching someone trying to come – and didn’t add much to the overall show.

But all in all, it’s a terrific, feelgood show with no artificial sentiment and plenty of huge laughs. Spiffing.

Review date: 21 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

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