Directed by Sarah Elaine Stewart
Pros: A well-researched, funny performance which balances serious discussion of religious views with lots of good humour.
Cons: Sometimes the performer looked a little uncomfortable on the stage.
Our Verdict: A refreshingly non-aggressive look at religion which felt thoroughly well-researched, considered and balanced.
|Courtesy of Canal Cafe Theatre|
If you’re a regular to this blog or if you’ve read anything else by my fellow reviewers, you may have noticed that we are generally a nice bunch of people (and you’re probably pretty darn lovely yourself too!). Even if a show is one which we wouldn’t recommend, even to those who have wronged us, we do try our hardest to produce a review that is fair, balanced and honest. So it’s always a blessing (and a major relief) to discover a show like this one, where we’re not challenged by the performance to get angry or upset but simply invited to listen to facts which are nicely wrapped up in good comedy. Put an agreeable guy in the room talking sensibly to the audience and you’ve got us on board.
Matt Thomas doesn’t shout and rave like a lunatic. He is, if an hour of his company is anything to go by, a pretty nice guy with no agenda other than teaching people to be reasonable and understanding of each other. Thomas places these ideas about being a flawed but accepting human being around the often controversial topic of religion. The serious facts and theories are interspersed with comedy. One audience member was dragged on stage to play the part of a religious person, my poor “plus one” was cornered by him and accused jovially of being a bad person. However, as much as he deals out, he turns an awful lot more back on himself with just as much vigour. By including the audience, making them laugh rather than heckle, Matt has a chance of actually making a difference. My only concern would be that anyone who would see his show, entitled The Human Being’s Guide to Not Being a Dick about Religion, would not be the Richard Dawkins or Westboro Baptist type of person of whose behaviors he is slightly critical. But it is so refreshing to see this stance on stage when so often it is the angry atheists or radical Christians who get the biggest coverage. Matt’s show really did speak to me. I’m not particularly religious but, like Matt, I’m happy that there are people out there who are. It’s just nice sometimes not to feel like the only person whose views aren’t at either end of the spectrum.
The venue itself is above a fashionable pub in a really lovely area of London. Set out as a cabaret bar with tables rather than rows of seats, which really encourages this type of show where the audience are expected to participate. My seat was particularly first-rate, set on a platform halfway back so I didn’t have to peak around other people’s heads.
Overall, I had a really enjoyable evening, the show was snappy, well performed and spoke to the wannabe intellectual in me. My only criticism, which is tiny, was that Matt Thomas seemed a little nervous, perhaps worried that his jokes would fail. The piece was pitch perfect and the jokes were genuinely funny and well-received so he really has nothing to worry about. This is an excellent and intelligent show.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Sadly, this show has now finished at the Canal Café Theatre but do keep an eye open for other shows at this venue. Box Office: 020 7289 6054 or online at: http://www.canalcafetheatre.com