Average Audience Rating: ★★★★½
Until 21st August at The Phoenix Artists Club
Don Rouse, London – ★★★★★
“Simon Jay is a performer who makes a clear impact on an audience: looks, moves and acting are special and captivating. His show, Is He A Bit Simon Jay, beautifully co-written with Scott Payne, looks like a fast-paced filming of a life (recently deceased Simon), complete with brilliant scene-blocking blackouts at the clap of a hand, clapperboard style.
Dead Simon’s life gets almost medically sectioned and is narrated backwards by the very people who have marked it – and eventually screwed it. Jay goes through the different characters with manic ease. With few sentences, all of them reveal the overwhelming influence they’ve had on the poor chap. The staging is essential, with just a couple of chairs – on one of them, the remains of dead Simon: just an arm, coming out of a suit jacket, his small but firm contribution to mankind; and a few props to choreograph Jay’s voices.
Pleasantly melancholic, this show lingers in the mind for a while, thanks to a very charming and competent act. There are performers who stand out and then there are performers who really stand out -like an obelisk in the desert. Mister Simon Jay clearly belongs to the latter category.”
Josh Vince, London – ★★★★
“Sharp writing, polished structure and an amazing performance all combine here to make something that showcases a wide range of comedic styles as we see Simon’s life backwards through those who knew him. The script races along at such a pace that fantastic gags are delivered as throw aways and Simon needs nothing more than a few simple signifiers to switch between characters – his keen improvisational skills adding comedic value to the frantic changes in one memorable scene at a wedding. The framing device doesn’t get in the way of the story and eventually provides one of the funniest moments of the night, and Simon’s tragic life unfurls to its shocking conclusion (or rather, beginning) that could only come from these writers and makes – dodgy Eastern European accents aside – for a hugely enjoyable hour of theatre. Rest in Peace, Simon.”
Michael Higgins, London – ★★★★★
“This is so Fringe it hurts. Imagine a demented “Stones in his Pockets” but as a one man show. Simon creates a believable (if hideous and highly exaggerated) cast of characters ranging from barrister to mother to fellow sewer worker. We go through them at a rate of knots, telling the sad tale of the corpse on the autopsy table.
Along the way we take in teddy bears smuggling drugs, bags of poo, Princess Margaret, a proposal and a wedding where the groom… well I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Suffice to say that the quick changes of character during the black outs are great, and the narrative whizzes along.
On the night I saw it the audience was small enough for Simon to come round and shake all our hands at the end (and I got a piece of chocolate) but it deserves to be seen by a bigger audience. Go see.”
Henry Fosdike, London – ★★★★
“This is a fantastic piece of fringe theatre! The enormously talented Simon Jay inspects the body of the newly deceased Simon Jay to see if we can gain insight into his life. And we certainly can! From this simple idea, we slowly warp backwards through a number of different time periods – starting with the most recent – seeing Simon through the eyes of a wealth of different characters.
The idea is simple and effective, with each character offering a humorous look at a number of key events in Mr. Jay’s life – his death, his wedding, his birth, etc. It’s very close to perfect and Jay and fellow writer Scott Payne will no doubt have polished the show to perfection by the time it arrives in Edinburgh next year. But there’s no need to wait. See it now and enjoy what is a unique and original performance.”