Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 13th May 2016

Screaming Blue MurderInteresting new staging for the most recent Screaming Blue. Instead of the podium being at the front and all the seats in rows looking towards it, they’ve added two or three short rows either side of it, at 90 degrees (or 270, depending your viewpoint). Talking of viewpoints, my guess is that sitting there you will get an excellent view of Dan Evans’ ears, but I’m uncertain to what extent you will feel the show is directed at you. Maybe we should try sitting there some time.

Dan EvansTalking of Dan, he was absolutely on fire this week. It was a packed house (always helps) and there were a few slightly louder ladies in the front rows for Dan to banter with. I say banter… it was abuse really, but they deserved it.

Matt ReesOur first act, new to us, was Matt Rees. He has a wonderful, deliberate, deadpan delivery, with just a hint of the lugubrious, but he’s really funny. Inventive, original material, that really hit the mark. I loved how Poundland, in Swansea, is the name of a sex shop – when I was a student I had a friend who lived nearby and I remember a few Saturday nights that suggest the place hasn’t changed much. There was a very clever routine about violence in a children’s nursery, nice observations about South Wales dining, and much much more. We’d definitely like to see him again.

Jo NearyNext up, and also new to us, was Jo Neary. A very different approach to presenting a stand-up act; rather than just telling a sequence of stories, she went modular. First we had her nervous sex toys powerpoint presentation but with the slides missing; we had some Bjork; we had a sequence spoken by her bitchy best friend; there were a few jokes interspersed in all this; and finally we ended up with her interpretation of Pan’s People performing Nilsson’s Without You. She’s a naturally very funny lady, and whilst some of the material was a little hit and miss (mainly hit) at her best she was hysterical. The variety-style of her performance kept it fresh and engaging too.

Mitch BennOur last act, whom we have seen at the R&D before, was Mitch Benn. I could just refer you to my blog post from September 2014 because his act was – I’m pretty sure – 100% the same. Fortunately, his material is great and he also delivers with attack and panache, so it was pleasure to hear it all a second time. Although his anti-Eurovision slant got my goat again!

All three acts were very much appreciated by the happy audience. Another Screaming Blue in two weeks’ time. We’ll be there, so should you!

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