Witnessing Jordan Brookes talk about the self-consciousness of posing for photographs, his expressive face hilariously gurning and contorting in an effort to approximate normality, you could be watching a really accomplished observational stand-up.
Star rating: ****
Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey (Venue 293)
But the expression “just be yourself” is fraught with import for the comic actor, who’s processing a full-blown existential crisis in this memorable hour, jumping back and forth in time and layering metatheatrical layer upon layer.
Priming the crowd with how he needs them to receive it at the top of the show, he offers us fleeting snapshots of his life, establishing himself as an unreliable author of his own story even as he contrasts his dispiritingly necessary work for the NHS with the seemingly flippant nonsense he’s sharing.
Playfully starting and restarting from the wings, sending up the usual motivations of comedians, he’s a charismatic , puckish but slightly unsettling and needy figure, musing on universal concerns but with a dark, twisted take, his choice of gap year destination defined by the infinite possibilities of where he’s chosen not to go.
Caustically funny and surprising, there’s a lovely romantic playlet he beautifully twists into crude, juvenile rebellion, a running gag that only swells in amusement the more he deploys it. Gradually, the throwaway references to mental disturbance, identity angst and a fall from grace start to form into a more coherent portrait. But to the end, he keeps you guessing exactly where his head is at.
Offensive gestures notwithstanding, very little is made explicit in this marvellous show. But it betrays plenty and you’re advised to see Brookes fast before word of mouth fills every seat.
Until 28 August. Today 5pm