thu 30/05/2024

Ivo Graham, Soho Theatre review - the perils of growing up | reviews, news & interviews

Ivo Graham, Soho Theatre review - the perils of growing up

Ivo Graham, Soho Theatre review - the perils of growing up

Going deep into personal material unearths lots of laughs

Ivo Graham has done a lot of growing up in the past year

Considering where Motion Sickness ends up, Ivo Graham's new show begins a million miles away, as he talks about his love of trains and his favourite train company, Chiltern – or “The Chilt”. But don't be fooled by this quotidian fare; what begins as a seemingly aimless wander down a path of nothing very much packs an emotional punch by the end of the hour.

Graham has previously made much gentle humour out of his thoroughly English, middle-class existence. His USP (not quite so unique, but we'll let that pass) is that he was Eton and Oxford, rather clever but witty and self-deprecating enough that at least some of the audience don't despise him on sight. He's clearly a nice bloke but not blokeish, as he describes at length his boyish delight in spending a day at a GoApe zipline centre, playing football with some young lads at a wedding, and the sexism of Thomas the Tank Engine (which leads to a gloriously funny #MeToo gag).

There's no emotional sturm and drang, just some very good anecdotes about becoming a grown-up

And then, at 27 (he's now 28), things started shifting in his life. He went into therapy, bought a flat and got engaged to a woman whose biological clock is ticking. But how could he think of becoming a father when he's still a child himself, as evidenced by the fact that his mother has always bought his socks to fill his Christmas stocking. He has now determined now to buy his own socks – “Soon I’ll work out how to buy a satsuma and then she’ll really be fucked.”

Graham's therapist clearly has his or her work cut out. Boarding schools are no place for seven-year-olds, and posh English emotional repression may throw up a lot of comedy material but it's not healthy. And besides, as said therapist has pointed out, getting up on stage and looking for validation is the worst possible way of dealing with some very knotty issues, the most serious of which are ever so slightly hinted at.

So there's no emotional sturm und drang here, just some very good anecdotes about becoming a grown-up, with lots of byways and verbal parentheses along the way. It isn't stream of consciousness, though; it's a precisely plotted and executed show where every word counts. In an hour stuffed with callbacks, it's one of them that ends the show, and a good one.

You perhaps have to be invested in Graham's happiness to care about this, or to have seen his previous shows to fully appreciate the developing craft of his comedy. He's a talented comic who could have, for his entire career, traded on his likeability and obvious cleverness – there's even a decent Michael McIntyre impression to ram this point home – but he has dug deep to fashion a deeply personal set, and one that unearths a lot of laughs.

Ivo Graham is at Soho Theatre, London W1 until 13 October; then touring until 11 December

Posh English emotional repression may throw up a lot of comedy material but it's not healthy


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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