Pros: This is a polished production that ridicules the potential absurdity of people working in theatre and performance. The sound design is excellent.
Cons: The humour doesn’t vary over the course of the performance. If you are a fan of this particular dry, satirical style of delivery you’ll enjoy the show, but it can quickly become repetitive.
Ben Kewin is a serious actor who wants to teach his audience about real life through micro-plays that he wrote. Well, not really. That’s the premise of his one-man show, Real Life, part of this year’s Camden Fringe. In actual real life, Kewin is an actor/comedian with a self-referential performance piece satirizing actors and theatre people taking themselves too seriously. His delivery is both energetic and extremely dry with plenty of good one-liners. Some of the audience laughed heartily throughout, others had a chuckle every now and again. Real Life is well crafted and has a detailed sound design by Gerry Marsden that creates atmosphere and additional comedy within Kewin’s individual plays. Yet, the tone and style are unwavering throughout and as a whole, the show is pitched to those who prefer their comedy sending up stereotypes.
The character Ben clearly has a need to teach his audience about real life, though it’s not really clear if there’s a reason other than his own vanity. He’s thorough, though. He covers sadness, fear, caring about others and cop dramas, amongst other topics. Each theme has its own little play, written by character Ben. He differentiates his character through costume choices and clearly explains what each aspect of real life he is going to cover next, making the show easy to follow. Performer Kewin and director Benedict Power have gone for the ‘being funny by being deliberately rubbish’ sense of humour combined with the absurdity of the stories. I found moments funny, or at least worth a chuckle, but some audience members loudly guffawed through the entire show. I chalk this up to taste and preference. It’s commendable that Kewin, who also wrote the show, has a definitive style that he sticks with and that works for him as a performer.
The main body of the show covers character Ben’s real life scenarios, but the last section discusses how to be a great actor. Though the structure and delivery mocks theatrical types from the beginning, this final sequence really sends it home. I imagine most people, in theatre or not, would find the idea funny because we are all familiar with ‘luvvies’ who think they know it all. A sing-along brings everyone together for a final giggle before the show ends. The absurdity of an actor teaching his audiences about what is real life is unmissable, though I’m unsure it warrants the belly laughs throughout. Real Life, though well crafted, is a show that will be to some people’s taste, but not everyone’s.
Author: Ben Kewin
Director: Benedict Power
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.