Brighton Fringe 2013
"Quint is your friend. He’s here to initiate you into the mysteries of traffic enforcement – and if he seems a bit distracted, it’s only because he’d rather be out there, stalking the stalker whose air rifle has got him grounded and doing these stupid training lectures. A one-man tragicomedy from Robert Cohen, creator of The Trials of Harvey Matusow"
Robert Cohen writes and performs this one hander. A FringeReview award winner the expectations are high.Subtitled the ‘untrue story of a man under siege’, Quint is a civil enforcement officer, NOT a warden, bringing justice to the streets.
Cohen’s monologue involves the sharing of many thoughts, feelings and anecdotes – the thoughts of Quint. The monologues are divided into a series that unravel Quint’s world.
Cohen is believable and approachable ina piece where a single individual’s warts and all humanity emerges from the devil in the detail. This is no cartoon character but areal soul with bits and bobs that mark Quint out as authentic. I’ve met Quint. He exists. And that believability marks this out as a show of quality – character theatre, tinged with bitter comedy, but rooted in the real. Cohen doesn’t overplay or exaggerate – he draws on the essence of Cohen and transposes it into a character that is close physically to him, yet is psychologically a creation of vital difference. This is the sort of skill that Peter Sellers had, and so did Leonard Rossiter.
A man who pays as he goes and ends up paying in other ways, there’s a tragicomic hint of David Brent in this character and a lot of the comedy arises from the contrast between statement after statement and a lack of true self-awareness in Quint himself. His self-knowledge is tragically selective. Quint lectures us, rants at us, trains us in life (and the craft of the traffic warden), asks questions, reflects, philosophises, complains, asserts and retracts. The great street that is Quint’s mind is double parked with endless cars, vans and lorries of thought,doubt and disatisfaction. It’s a show about meltdown, full of thought and feeling traffic, and many members of the human race, perhaps even the Creator, have parked on the double yellow lines of his soul. A beautifully crafted and realised character, and the powerful theatre is to be found in this depth study of mundanity. Detail found in humorous observation realised through direct monologue.
I found the going on and off between parts a bit disjointed and the link music didn’t quite join it up. On stage changes in blackout might have aided flow and fluency. Some parts really shine and blend comedy with fine character acting. Other parts feel a little more hesitant – possibly as the show still beds in. We gave Cohen four stars at the start of his run of The Trials of Harvey Matusow. Later onwe gave it an award. I suspect we might end up doing the same with Hi Vis. It’s starting out and is so very well worth seeing at the beginning of its journey.
Each time I see Robert Cohen perform, within moments I’ve entirely forgotten it is Robert Cohen. That’s good isn’t it? Very, very good.