The publishing phenomenon of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey has been an absolute gift for Jason Byrne, allowing him to indulge his usual, graphic recreations of grunting, gurning sex while ramping up his avowed incomprehension of the female mind.
Rating: * * *
Quoting liberally is enough the secure him huge laughs, playing up the divisions the book engenders between the sexes, desperately reminding men in the audience that “our grannies are reading about this!”
As ever, the Irishman’s peerless crowd management and physical skills elevate material that wouldn’t stand up on a printed page, his philistine, working-class derision of Olympics dressage rammed home with some gleefully daft prancing, while a particularly vocal punter is dispatched with some weirdly effective tomfoolery with a hairbrush.
He can create memorable episodes seemingly out of nothing, contriving idiotic routines from misheard or wilfully misunderstood crowd interjections, sustaining an impressive number of tangents around the scripted material. He has, essentially, become a prop comic in recent years, with good reason.
A rude noise gizmo generates gales of laughter simply by dint of his extended, manic pumping. Indeed, this is yet another masterclass in stupidity from Byrne, with the caveat that his mammy’s discipline and his wife’s shrewish attitude to his libidinous desires are topics he’s covered in depth before.
Moreover, the ridiculous finale, in which he tries to recreate a trick by the egotist magician David Copperfield, has far too much scene-setting for such a perfunctory display of lame slapstick.
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