Thursday, 14 November 2013

Silly Billies Comedy - Live at The Cumberland Arms - Review [14th November 2013]

[2013.11.14] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.

Jack Gardner has been performing stand-up comedy prolifically in the North-East over the past few years and has gathered a lot of respect from peers, in part, for the imagination he shares with his audiences. From a passion to support comedians with more adventurous displays, Gardner has recently set-up his own monthly night at The Cumberland Arms called Silly Billies, which debuted in October. Tonight, that upstairs room is now full-up with people eager for the second installment. 

Rather than our compere intermitting with the usual Q and A's to warm the audience, Gardner ignores this tradition, choosing to frame the evening instead with thoughtful theatrical set-pieces that walk interesting lines between comedy and drama. We got masks, portals, and dance routines. 

Each chapter by the five guest performers was excellent; from the hysterics of Ian Gordan's character Fernando, to the metafictional identity deconstruction by Sean Morley; from the anxious and creepy persona by Mark Kennedy to the self-sabotaging ramblings of Lee Kyle. Sean Turner, with his enthusiasm for audience participation and cheeky twists was a highlight. 

Though other nights are lenient to a dynamic of sloppy acts herding unquestioning audiences, Silly Billies works valiantly to support inspired performers who appreciate their audiences' participation in making the experience whole. This is a polished affair, and only costs the price of a pint to enter.

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