Brighton Fringe 2015
Alexis Dubus, looking perpetually startled by what life is throwing at him, gives us a charming hour in which he explores yearning, heartbreak, and rusty screwdrivers.
The title, in an odd roundabout way, is somewhat misleading. Yes, it’s undoubtedly about cars and girls (or more specifically, slightly dangerous vans and mildly hippyish women) , but there’s at least the chance that the title – and the neon-pink influenced poster – might lead you to assume that you’re in for a hour of Loaded generation Top Gear level musings about boobs and gear-sticks.
The truth is that there’s a lot more here: Alexis Dubus’ show is not so much about Cars And Girls, but more about the aching romance that we attach to both of those: our storyteller is acutely (and cutely) aware that he has a ‘type’ that is less to do with what he finds attractive, and much more to do with the poetic image he has of himself.
To describe this show as any of the three things it clearly is – stand up, poetry, and narrative storytelling – would be diseingeous. In the end, it is what any one-man show really ought to strive for: a charming hour (or so) with a genuinely engaging personality. To speak at any great length about the themes discussed within the show runs the risk of ripping all the best lines off in the hope of filling up text for a review, but suffice to say that one of the more interesting moments occur when Dubus rails against being advised to grow up – to ‘put away childish things’. It’s true that comedy is generally filled with far too many white men acting like man-babies, but the way that Dubus sells it, his running away from responsibility is a considered choice: genuinely mature and sensible. After all, the big wide world is big enough and wide enough to be avoided for as long as possible.
The poetry is more than a gimmick, and can lead to some lovely conversational cul-de-sacs: it’s joyful to see Dubus work his way through a grammatical three point turn in order to make some grammatical point. There are also a few nice moments when he throws out a joke that he already knows is only going to land with a small section of the audience, giving an impish grin when they get it.
Early on in the hour, Dubus concedes that he’s far from an expert in either cars or girls. After the show has had a chance to cool its engines, you realise that’s not a throwaway gag, but the fuel running the whole show: girls and cars are, in this world, fascinating, almost alien concepts, simultaneously complicated and simple. This is a delightful hour about a young man trying to find his way around both. Without the help to an AtoZ.