Monday, October 18, 2010

Kaning it - Russell Kane review

Prone to wearing slightly girly T-shirts

Russell Kane at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on Friday, October 1

RUSSELL Kane’s Fosters Comedy Award-winning Edinburgh Fringe show Smokescreens and Castles covered familiar ground for the Essex-born working class-raised comedian, but marked a pinnacle in his ongoing journey around his father.

The title referred to Russell’s childhood council home, the first in his street to be bought under Thatcher’s Right-to-Buy policy in the 1980s and to have an extension built, thereby being nicknamed “The Castle” by neighbours. But it also related to Russell’s archetypical Essex man father and the metaphorical ramparts that he, like so many men, built around their emotions.

From his comment: “Of course I loved you, I never hit you” to unsubtly rating female students for attractiveness at his son’s graduation ceremony rather than congratulate him, Kane’s father could have been presented as a cold, hard man, but Kane’s conviction that there was a heart within that could occasionally be glimpsed gave his show warmth and depth.

Kane’s constant pirouetting across the stage was sometimes distracting, and he seemed overly keen to keep to the traditional Edinburgh running time of an hour despite a series of ad-libs with the audience which meant that towards the end it appeared that he had to be selective with his material rather than present the award-winning show in its entirety.

As Kane surmised “I talk about what I know, which means that I’ve probably only got three shows in me”, and it is likely that next year he will have to find material that moves him on from his upbringing to other territories. But with an epic 60 dates of this show taking him through to May next year, he may have finally come to terms with his childhood experiences by the end of the tour.

Unusual support came from character comedian Sadie Hasler, who presented a series of vignettes from her Edinburgh show Lady Bones, displaying famous - and infamous female characters in an unexpected light. Included were poetry-loving Myra Hindley, a poised but potty-mouthed Katherine Hepburn, a post-feminist Emmeline Pankhurst, and formerly conjoined twin Charlotte Bronte, who clearly got the better end of the deal over twin sister Emily/Anne.

It was a surprise for the audience, who took a while to warm to the pace of a non-stand up format, but certainly inspired discussion in the interval, and was a bath for the eyes before the giddying whirlwind of Kane. Having previously played New Greenham Arts, and bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t tie in this date with a curry, this was a man clearly enjoying his upgrade to a larger stage, and aiming to make the most of every inch of the space available. 

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News, Thursday, October 7, 2010

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