Spencer Jones: The Things We Leave Behind | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Spencer Jones: The Things We Leave Behind

Note: This review is from 2019

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Last time he was at the Fringe, in 2017, Spencer Jones added a narrative about going to an audition to his gleefully child-like prop comedy. There’s no such story this time, except perhaps the ongoing acknowledgement that creating all the daft items he plays with is not exactly conducive to family life as a husband, a supposed breadwinner, and a father of two young children.

The notion is that we’re in his home workshop late at night, and although Jones is absolutely, definitely not going to Edinburgh this year, he’s keen to show us what he’s been working on should he return one day. And all the while he’s trying not to wake the missus or the kids. That’s it for story; otherwise it’s one silly sight gag after the next.

And how many there are! Googly eyes, ping-pong balls and makeshift lips can give anything a face, making unlikely puppets out of so much household junk. Some of the creations verge on the disturbing, which only makes them funnier, with the hideous chimera that represents his son an especially hilarious grotesque.

Absurd artwork litters the stage. It surely won’t be long before Jones - whose newly released Herbert Clunkerdunk shorts are some of the best things on iPlayer – joins the likes of fellow surrealists Vic Reeves and Noel Fielding in having his own gallery exhibitions.

While most of the focus is on the visual gags, his audio work is excellent, too thanks to his trusty Boss RC-505 loop station acquired from eBay. Jones has a fine ear for the pleasing tones and rhythms of a phrase like ‘do you remember my mum?’ and manipulates it into an earworm of a music track. Elsewhere he sings about dog poo, or gives us an old-school rap song whose nonsense lyrics sounds as good as the real thing.

But he’s in and out with a single verse. The momentum of the show is crucial, and he rattles through the sillies. A sort of steampunk robot-man must have taken him a day to make is discarded in 20 seconds – but the delight in his face at showing off his work is infectious.

Amid all the controlled insanity, it turns out there is a bit more linking the scenes than he made out thanks to the recurring titular notion of the ‘things we leave behind’. Notionally this refers to the bits of junk that are his raw materials, but it can also mean his children – with much of Jones’s messing about having loose parallels with his attempts to work out what a good dad should be.

But to impose too much meaning on these shenanigans is pretentious – it’s all just so much nonsense, and gleefully so.

Review date: 9 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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