A varied survey of emerging comic talent, London’s leg of the The Invisible Dot’s New Wave Tour saw long-standing collaborator Tom Basden deftly introduce a diverse bill unified by a creative approach to form, a strong theatrical sense and frequent glimpses of genius.
Fiercely idiosyncratic and artfully conceived, Claudia O’Doherty’s distinct brand of comedy is representative of The Invisible Dot’s output. As with recent Fringe show Pioneer, dubious corporate sponsorship forms the theme of the Australian’s set, dedicated to the National Chair Association. While lacking the cohesion and multimedia set-pieces of her full shows, O’Doherty’s attempts at promoting her ‘sponsor’ through highlighting Hitler and Rosemary West’s predilection for standing is inspired.
No less imaginative is Daran Johnson, whose eager reenactment of his West End musical chorus part proves highly surreal in the absence of his fellow cast members. Weirdly minimal dance moves, deconstructed song parts and a spare yet precise use of props combine in the evening’s highlight.
Similarly theatrical is Jamie Demetriou’s tunic-sporting chorister, blighted by a freakishly high water content and attention from bullies. Forced to deliver explicitly rewritten lyrics he fears make him ‘sound like an American rap man’, Demetriou’s monologue is sensitively composed, marrying physicality to a healthy dose of absurdism. Ellie White inhabits her characters just as convincingly, while evidencing a dexterous knack for accents, presenting a ruthless Australian motivational speaker followed by a Turkish contender for Miss Haringey 2013.
There’s a considered tonal balance to the line-up, with the high-energy of aforementioned acts standing in contrast to Liam William’s disillusioned riffs on dating and materialism. Further nuanced storytelling comes from the effortlessly endearing Mae Martin. The Canadian delivers a fine song dedicated to a former teacher, monumentally misreading into perceived acts of intimacy on school trips.
Sketches arrive courtesy of quartet Oyster Eyes, and fresh faced duo The Pin, respectively. The former’s set is dominated by Phoebe Walsh and Tash Demetriou’s turn as German feminists, brilliantly taking a male audience member to task for prescriptive gender norms. The latter, while set in a fairly rigid straight man v. unassuming jester set-up, also impress with a scene in which Frank Lampard crowbars newly studied improvisational skills into a Gillette ad shoot.
While Oscar Jenkyn-Jones’ stage presence is promising, his set proves light on laughs, material appearing undeveloped in relation to fellow performers. However, the hit rate is very high for a ten-strong bill, exemplary of The Invisible Dot’s commitment to providing a platform to form-challenging performers, taking risks and championing comics talent along the way.
Attended on 18 October at The Bloomsbury Theatre.
The New Wave Tour stops at Cardiff on 14 Nov; Manchester on 22 Nov; and Cambridge on 5 Dec.