★★★ MAT EWINS, SOHO THEATRE Not just an entertaining Indiana Jones spoof
Mat Ewins comes on stage with a bullet belt slung across his chest. Indiana Jones he ain't, but what follows is a spoof on that film genre, a convoluted narrative that makes little sense but has a large degree of bombast as the show's title, Mat Ewins: Presents Adventureman 7 – the Return of Adventureman, suggests.
It's an hour of multimedia storytelling, visual jokes and a lot of audience engagement (plus a brilliant long-form gag), in which Ewins trots out a daft tale involving a cursed amulet from Tutankhamen’s tomb that has gone missing from the British History Museum where he works, and which he tries to regain for his employers to stop the museum being shut down.
In contrast with the show's apparent shambolic nature, Ewins has created a complicated series of video backdrops, including an informercial for a labour-saving “Cuplate” he has devised, a hilariously wrong singalong and a hazard perception test in which an unwitting member of the audience reveals either their bad driving or that they have homicidal tendencies.
He has even programmed an algorithm that randomly generates new names for his characters – to keep both him and us on our toes as they change during the story – and has written an Xbox game that he invites an audience member to play. But it's at their peril, as so many of Ewins's gags prove to have a twist.
In a gag-filled but uneven hour, Ewins goes meta when he breaks off from his storytelling deep into the show to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience as himself; much as I enjoyed it, I suspect this section may have worked better at the Edinburgh Fringe, where Adventureman 7 was nominated for best show in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. It shows, though, that he is not simply spoofing adventure movies but is a keen student of modern comedy too.
- Mat Ewins at Soho Theatre London W1 until 21 October
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