Chris Martin & Carl Donnelly
Hannah Playhouse (formerly Downstage Theatre), Tuesday May 6 – Saturday May 10, 2014 (8.30-10.30pm)
For this double feature we have Chris Martin and Carl Donnelly, both British comics, Martin’s been here before, Donnelly is new. Donnelly gets the job of opening the show.
It takes a few moments for him to settle down from being overly smiley and milking those easy laughs from an earnest comedy audience, so eager to want to laugh many simply volunteer the noise, hoping to attach it to something that could later be construed as funny. But Donnelly is funny. He gets there. And he manages to do so via some personal stories, he’s in mid-life crisis mode and so his 50 minutes on the stage is about the changes in his life over the last year. It creates situations where he can leap off into nearly-manic storytelling but he always leaves himself room to be interrupted by audience members. He doesn’t so much call for heckles as he does encourage discussion. Sadly, two women were too vocal – one in particularly was punishingly frank, opening up her life story’s can of worms when we were there to hear Donnelly. He handled it well though.
As the week goes on he’ll no doubt be over those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed moments. Because the best bits are so often when Donnelly heads to slightly dark, often twisted places within the jokes.
Martin’s hour is sharper, given he’s been here before – and he got to watch his mate do the first hour. His new show is about his new relationship, he’s not in crisis like Donnelly but manages a slap-up job of finding the humour in domestic bliss. There’s a shrewd anger within Martin’s delivery. He’s never (too) savage but is happy to play the bad guy in his final comedic blows, the way he closes off bits he has a snarky twist, a way of owning the cruel, telling blow. That said, as funny as his final bit is – it’s tacked on and the closing punchline, the way of tying it all together, is hackneyed, almost non-existent really. Still, there’s a lot of laughs up until then – and it was possibly in the telling of the tale on the night I saw it, as they were both playing catch-up against the clock. As the week goes on they’ll have that sorted no doubt.
Worth seeing. Two funny chaps.