Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Mat Ewins performs an hour of charming yet slightly aggressive character stand-up, "improv" (to be clear this is a direct quote from Ewins, not a sarcastic comment on his ability) and audience participation.
Ewins lopes onto the stage in a long coat and eye-patch as 80‘s movie star Bruce Hammers and declares that the show "ran eight minutes short yesterday" so he was therefore going to "flesh it out" by talking to the audience. This had me worried, however when Ewins proceeded to flip up his eye-patch and launched into the audience "banter" section of his show it was clear how much of an experienced stand-up performer Ewins is. He leads the audience through the stories of his smash hit movie ‘Bananapocolypse’ and the jobs that lead him there. He intermits the main muddled-together storyline with other characters from Hammers’ career, pulling audience members up on stage to perform the roles of his fellow actors. Ewins spends the majority of his show bemusing and abusing his audience, however he does it so masterfully that he still has them in stitches. A particular highlight presents itself in his film trailers projected onto a screen by the side of the stage. The film clips open with a parody of the MGM roaring lion with the declaration ‘I’m a lion, you’re not’ which establishes very quickly the sense of humour which Ewins presents to his audience. The whole show is silly, occasionally aggressive but always oddly charming and side-splitingly funny.
There overarching issue with Ewins’ performance is that although his characters are entertaining and artfully executed it presents problems of a lack of any linear connectivity. It feels as though the characters’ sketches are fully-formed but thrown together to create a rather mis-matched show. It leaves the audience feeling somewhat confused as to what Ewins was trying to achieve, it certainly wasn’t a show with any kind of comprehensive ‘plot’ or explainable character changes.
However, despite its issues, ‘Bruce Hammers’ Bananapocalypse’ is an incredibly silly, odd and very entertaining hour. Ewins’ potential as a stand-up and character comedian is very apparent and with some polish, and possibly independent direction, he would be a comedic force to be reckoned with.