Until 23 Feb 2016

Review by Anthony Vawser

Andrew Silverwood's first few minutes on stage led this reviewer to wonder whether we in the audience were, in fact, being gifted with a genuine, heartfelt homage to Chaplin. The choices made by Silverwood in terms of props, costumes, movement, and silence (albeit with pre-recorded voice-over accompaniment) reflected none other than the Little Tramp himself.

It would have been surprising indeed to see a performance with such a title as this one paying tribute to the classics of history - so it was expected that once Silverwood opened his mouth and started to assert his own identity, we would be brought back to contemporary times and contemporary angst/humour about contemporary life/relationships. Fortunately, on that level, it's not too shabby a show.

Silverwood is impressively responsive to his audience's reactions and strives to make us part of the show - sometimes to a fault. Be prepared: parts of this presentation you are likely to find 'unusually intimate'.

The humour is roughly equal parts 'warmly witty' and 'sharply barbed'. The mere unveiling of a ukulele on stage is enough to ring this reviewer's "PRECIOUSNESS" alarm, but here it is more than justified by a spirited performance of a charming tune (about falling for a Northern girl). Even a piece of play-acting with paper cups is a concept that works far better than you think it will.

Silverwood is successful at eliciting acutely sympathetic reactions to his tales of discovery and disappointment, but much like the rest of us, his aim is not perfect. He pushes the edge of acceptability at times (into moments that disappointingly play like mere chauvinistic ugliness), but at least his lapses feel like the type that most people occasionally let slip (regrettably, the long, LONG sequence where he reads us a series of seemingly unedited Messenger chats is a wash-out).

Above all, Andrew Silverwood shows himself here to be an impressively unflappable performer. Though he has mixed success with his anecdotes and observations, Silverwood's physical presence (self-deprecatingly described early on as a "poster boy for meth"), combined with a worthwhile ability to zero in on the need that most of us have in our lives for some kind of companionship - as well as on the many difficulties that this can present - sees him through to the finish.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)