mon 29/11/2021

Alfie Brown, Soho Theatre review - a contrarian on great form | reviews, news & interviews

Alfie Brown, Soho Theatre review - a contrarian on great form

Alfie Brown, Soho Theatre review - a contrarian on great form

Mental health and male privilege examined

Alfie Brown doesn't spare himself as he delves into sensitive subjects

Well, this is a first: a comedy show with footnotes. Alfie Brown tells us at the top of the hour that he'll be stepping out of his routines from time to time to explain why the gag he's about to tell, or has just told, isn't offensive. It's a clever touch, one of several in Sensitive Man.

Brown is perhaps taking a sensible precaution over being misunderstood because he's a contrarian comic who is happy to tackle sensitive subjects – unplanned parenthood, racism and paedophilia in previous shows – and here he delves into mental health and white male privilege.

There's more material about parenthood here – this time planned, not jointly as he would expect, but mostly by his partner (fellow performer Jessie Cave). At the start of 2020 she mooted the idea of a third child but Brown was less keen, so they struck a deal; she would have the baby while he could have some, er, freedom while on tour in Australia. Then the pandemic struck...

It's a bracing start to the show, in which Brown doesn't spare himself – although the asides among the self-laceration are both knowing and, like much else in the hour, add another level to the gag. Is he really saying “poor little me” or, as he contends, merely asking for our validation?

He feels hard done by; Brown, now 34, hankers after his carefree 20s, and lays into those still in that decade, with all their life ahead of them “ostentatiously waving around wads of time”, one of many deliciously crafted lines in Sensitive Man. As a bipolar man, he also bemoans how mental health – particularly men's mental health – has become commodified, thereby devaluing its currency. Cue a footnote break.

Brown can work himself into a lather about lots of things, even the seemingly insignificant, and there are riffs about the kind of people who buy soup, the excesses of Formula One, the difference between gaslighting and lying, and a comic's relationship with his audience.

There are a few flights of fancy and more than a touch of meta, but most of all it's a very well constructed hour of intelligent comedy.

Brown hankers after his carefree 20s, and lays into those still in that decade

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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