Brighton Fringe 2015
"A true British eccentric in the mould of Vivian Stanshall or Ivor Cutler. Fast becoming an Edinburgh Fringe institution. Sacked from Looney Tunes during a purple patch and ready to snap. Just GO!"
Mr Twonkey has a brand new show and this is the very first night. Over the following hour, many of the audience were in hysterics and others looked on, suppressing smiles and laughter that might just reveal their own inner affinity with the absurdity of the human condition.
Songs, set pieces, banter and even psychic brandy tasting fill the time. This is anti-showbiz, punkish musical surrealism. Running through it is a thread of more rational banter as our host and his crazy puppets comment, tell a gag or two and sing with an energy that nearly pops buttons and smashes Quadrant windows.
Twonkey has built up a loyal following over the years, and many fans were in evidence tonight. The show isn’t there yet, which is a big relief all round. It feels rough because it is meant to be rough. Twonkey is like an abstract painter who really knows how to classically paint but has ditched those genres for something more playful and unhinged. It works. The audience love it. It is a spectacle and a cabaret in equal measure. Songs, banter, backing tracks, tricks and puppets; stories and one liners all combine to create sense overload, too much happening at one time, then everything grinding hilariously to a halt at another.
Old favourite characters plucked from the zany repertoire alongside new material and changes of mood from mad to intense, emotional to throaway, this is the skill of the man and his arrant inventiveness. He gives himself permission to spin at the edges of normality and that gives us permission to indulge a bit of escapism from the mediocre normal. Simply staged, plenty of props, bemusement mixed with delight, the audience lean forward to see what will happen next.
Not all of the songs were as clear as I’d have liked them as there are words I wanted to hear. It will settle in the right ways as the show develops but I hope that the material will not completely settle, keeping its offbeat and reality-popping cleverness.
You won’t enjoy it if you are seeking a beginning, middle and end (in that order. You won’t enjoy it if you can’t induldge your own propensity towards the unhinged. But if you go with Twonkey he’ll take you all over the shop, but you’ll be happily, crappily, mad-cappily glad of the journey.