thu 18/04/2024

Adam Riches, Soho Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

Adam Riches, Soho Theatre

Adam Riches, Soho Theatre

Edinburgh Comedy Award winner reprises his larkabout show

Adam Riches' character comedy is high on audience participationIdil Sukan

The journey from the Edinburgh Fringe to a UK tour or London residency can be a fraught one. What works in the context of the world's biggest and best arts festival, where even in established venues there's often a whiff of “let's do the show right here!” shambolism, can, in the confines of a professional theatre space, be met with irritation rather than affection.

But no such worries with Adam Riches' show, Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches, which won the Edinburgh Comedy Award last August - his anarchic character comedy has transferred nicely from a sweaty temporary venue in the Scottish capital to the comforts of Soho Theatre's main house.

Riches takes audience participation to its extreme, and this is a show where nobody is safe

Riches begins with with his noisy and noisome talent agent, busily trying to sign everybody and everything in sight, throwing his business cards around with abandon, even at the backcloth: “Three walls and a curtain is the new 4 Poofs and a Piano!” But this high-energy routine also allows Riches to size up his audience – those who avoid his gaze, those who respond to his overtures – in order to find his victims, sorry participants, for his onstage mayhem. Riches takes audience participation to its extreme, and this is a show where nobody is safe, wherever they are sitting.

It's a measure of Riches' charm (and I suspect good judgment) that people join in so willingly in the fun, whether to swing their hips suggestively to show they can play Spanish hunk Pedro's very individual form of swingball (think about it), or be in the line of watergun fire in a lizard race on skateboards (use your imagination).

There are five characters – the agent, Pedro, O'Hara the explorer, “Daniel Day-Lewis” and a despotic Mastermind board game champion, plus an interlude in which he performs a completely daft costume change moving from one cardboard box to another.

His preening, baying actor is a hoot - he looks and sounds nothing like the man, of course, but catches all of his self-regard. Day-Lewis is disappointed he hasn't won an award for all of four minutes and then, with the help of two good-hearted audience members, stages a scene from The Last of the Mohicans, in which they show off the style of drama he has invented, smacting – acting with a smoke machine. Pedro jollies along a chap to schwing his, er, balls, while trying to run off with his girlfriend, and the O'Hara sketch, involving an inflatable raft and giant lizards (played by two of Riches' helpers), is just mad. The Mastermind sketch, in which Riches is in a wheelchair simply it seems to get a gag out of a urine bag, is equally chaotic.

On the night I saw the show, his Daniel Day-Lewis skit went awry because of a misbehaving smoke machine. Riches didn't make any attempt to create new comedy out of the malfunction and I must confess there were moments I felt that he was on a loop with his script, but his giddiness is catching and this is an hour of plain daft fun.

  • Adam Riches is appearing at the Soho Theatre, London W1 until 17 March
His preening, baying actor is a hoot - he looks and sounds nothing like the man but catches all of his self-regard


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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