PICKING up on the hurt and self-analysis that defined his 2012 return to stand-up, Life is Pain, this compelling series of recriminations from Alan Davies, against his failing body, his young children but most strikingly, his cold, angry father, betrays his recourse to therapy and builds to a densely funny, middle-aged howl of anguish that nevertheless amounts to understanding.
Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
Star rating: * * * *
His kids’ blithe insensitivity to his love finds its release in the twisted pleasure he takes from their accidents, be it blurted swearing from his daughter or his occasional fantasies of “accidental” violence towards them, goading his wife to feel the same.
Yet that’s merely the aperitif before the main course of his knotty relationship with his old man, a single parent now afflicted with Alzheimer’s, the title of Davies’ show, Little Victories, taken from a petty, point-scoring triumph he once extracted from his father’s birthday.
The central anecdote of the show is, he speculates, likely the reason he became a comedian – hearing Andy Murray struggling to win Wimbledon brought back a long-suppressed memory of his father’s pique at him paying too much for a tennis ball.
A masterful rally between Davies’ adolescent bewilderment and his older, wiser self, it segues neatly into the puberty-stricken horrors of his public school education, before an amusing coda concerning his lack of sexual fitness with his younger wife.
Some niggling, plain wrong generalisations about Scots notwithstanding (no-one here cared about Murray’s victory?), this is more deeply personal and wryly funny stuff from a comedian hitting his prime.
Seen on 17.04.14