Comedy review: James Meehan – Class Act

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Of all the -isms explored on the Fringe, classism tends to get about as much exposure as working-class performers themselves.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Just the Tonic at The Tron (Venue 51)

James Meehan began writing his solo debut in a white heat of rage, after the sitcom role he was up for playing a character from his own Lancastrian, council estate background went to a privately educated, RP-speaking comic.

Part of a pattern he discerns in culture generally of ignoring and monstering the poorest in society, he speaks passionately on behalf of his benefits-claiming mother and the TV escapism they rely on to keep them from despair.

Occasionally, he struggles to defend the working-class from charges of racism and ignorance, but he’s adamant that they’ve been sold lies about immigration by the establishment.

Based on personal experience, he reserves particular bile for the Atos benefits assessment system, even if he’s wary of appearing an angry young cliché, contriving a fantasy, drug-induced sequence in which he confronts his own privilege and prejudice. The “edited” inclusion of classic films detracts from the thrust of his arguments, but his earnestness is compelling.

Meehan’s convictions sustain a show that’s intermittently funny and damning.

Until 28 August. Today 6:20pm.

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