wed 22/05/2024

Rhod Gilbert, G-Live Guildford review - cancer, constipation and celebrity treatment | reviews, news & interviews

Rhod Gilbert, G-Live Guildford review - cancer, constipation and celebrity treatment

Rhod Gilbert, G-Live Guildford review - cancer, constipation and celebrity treatment

Finding the funny in illness

Rhod Gilbert is in playful mood despite the serious subject matter of his new show

Rhod Gilbert is disarmingly honest about his thought process when he received his diagnosis of head and neck cancer in 2022.

Following quickly from his fears about his possible imminent death, another thought flashed through his mind: “I can get a show out of this.” And it is that trademark cheeky humour that runs through his latest show, Rhod Gilbert and the Giant Grapefruit, which begins with an affirmative “I'm alive!”

Some will know the Welshman's cancer story through the moving documentary A Pain in the Neck which aired on Channel 4 last year. For the uninitiated he starts here by riffing on the saying about “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” – but what if life gives you a grapefruit-sized tumour when everybody knows that grapefruit juice is the least tasty breakfast option?

It could be rather serious as this not Gilbert's first experience of ill health, as anyone who saw his previous show The Book of John (in 2019) will know. It described an awful period in his life when his mum died from Alzheimer's, his father had a heart attack, his wife was suffering from endometriosis and the comic himself had a mini-stroke – which necessitated in him employing a bloke called John as his driver. John, Gilbert reminds us here, is “as thick as shit and has an opinion about everything” – ie, he's comedy gold.

So John provides lots of comedy in this show too, as Gilbert needed a driver again throughout his cancer treatment of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Along the way Gilbert muses on “celebrity cancer”, the possible dangers of cunnilingus in his particular diagnosis and the irony of being a patron at the cancer centre where he received his living-saving regimen – without, he says with faux outrage, any special treatment despite his extensive fund-raising efforts for it.

There's also a lengthy – and very funny – description of Gilbert's experience of one of the possible side-effects of his treatment, constipation, and his innovative approach to curing it. He takes the episode to surreal heights, and it sets the relentlessly upbeat tone of the two-hour show – to the extent that some who have gone through their own cancer journey might feel that Gilbert's emotions are being held in check, for any number of reasons.

But this is his story for him to tell in his own way and the stinger is in the tail, when as an encore he shows a lovely short film that ties all the show's strands together and for which you will almost certainly need tissues. It is wonderfully uplifting.

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