Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 6 March 2018

Review: An Evening with Jonathan Blazer at Vault Festival

Until 4 March 2018

Francesca Peschier has a long, hard think about why she didn’t like this.

Francesca Peschier
An Evening with Jonathan Blazer at Vault Festival 2018

An Evening with Jonathan Blazer at Vault Festival 2018

Sometimes you see shows you hate. Sometimes you see shows you hate and then you have to write words about them. I have trouble articulating things I hate as it always feels like you are one sentence away from becoming a cartoon theatre-snob, weeing all over another person’s craft for the sake of honest copy. So, I decided to have a good long chat with the woman in the mirror as to why, in all honesty, she hated this so fucking much.

Ok. So…. you didn’t like it then.

No.

Maybe just not your thing

It was a character-driven comedy show about a dashing paranormal investigator, that promised genuine scares. That’s a literal Venn diagram of things I like with me at the nexus of it. Not since Sh!t Theatre’s Dollywould have I looked at a piece of advertising copy and gone ‘yup, that’s a me show, gimme gimme.’

Perhaps you just didn’t chime with Paul Flannery? That’s ok! You can’t please everyone, he’s probably just not your cup of tea…

I gave his Knightmare Live 5 stars. I adored MMPORG so much I saw it twice in Edinburgh. I consider his ‘Am I a Pie?’ game one of the most underrated post 20th Century contributions to human civilisation. This… this was a betrayal.

Were you in a bad mood?

I’d napped. I’d seen two good shows. I’d eaten delicious Vaults nachos and was halfway through our second bottle of wine. I was RARING to go.

What about your mate, she doesn’t go to as much theatre as you so she probably took it more on face value, just, like got into it…  

She said it was like he ‘was masturbating at her using only his eyebrows.’

Fair enough, we won’t ask her then. What about the Paranormal stuff?

He did a Ouija board singlehandedly as a device for a sort of phone-in ghost show. The whole point of a Ouija board is that you need a minimum of two people’s hands on the plantchette in order to enable the ideomotor response, otherwise it’s just you pushing a little wheelie heart around. He asked the audience about ghost encounters, a man told a genuinely eerie story that was then… just left hanging. Flannery is a master improviser but when given this ace material seemed mainly just pissed that the dude’s tale was better than the whole show. Also, I knows it’s picky that the London Necropolis Railway didn’t run through where the Vaults are but that’s such an awesome reference you don’t just throw it away as a side note.

Now you are just being an arse, you can’t expect every show to come with accurate research. This was blatantly meant to be silly satire.

See I do though. Or if it is flagrantly ignoring it, then I expect some plot or jokes or even a good scare. There was nothing satirical in An Evening with Johnathan Blazer. Providence showed how if you are going to improv off something you need to know your source material – they could send up Lovecraft because they 100% got Lovecraft. Mainly Blazer ranted at some poor woman called Barbara (uncredited) before slapping her (not funny first time, not funny the fifth time) in a ‘pull yourself together’ sketch, and told us how fancy he looked in tweed.

It wasn’t even tweed. It was clearly polyester. 

What about the design? You love design? Plus they said there would be HORROR. 

There was still a price sticker on the bottom of the red bowl of doom and a poundland skull on a string.

Work in progress tho…

Charging nearly a tenner a ticket tho….

Artist’s gotta eat.

Artist’s also gotta look after their audience and invite them in on the joke. Apparently, Flannery finds himself absolutely HILARIOUS as he kept corpsing the whole way through. There’s that lovely thing we read somewhere about Joan Littlewood cleaning the step of the theatre before opening night because the company were inviting people into ‘their house’. It’s not servile – it’s loving and full of care. You open up your ‘home’, what you’ve made and share it. You don’t slap down some half-arsed effort and expect the audience to feel lucky that you’ve turned up.

Ok. Lets chalk this one up and move on.

….

..

.

It wasn’t even tweed.

Let it go Frank.

Not.fucking.tweed.

An Evening with Jonathan Blazer was on as part of Vault Festival 2018. Click here for more details. 

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Francesca Peschier

Francesca is a freelance lecturer, reviewer, and AHRC funded PhD student at University of Arts London. where her research examines the relationship between scenography and identity in Liverpool. A former model maker and set painter, she still manages to keep her place on the Society of British Theatre Designers committee. She is the founding editor of JAWS, the Journal of Arts Writing by Students published by Intellect. When not writing about or watching theatre she concerns herself with running a croquet society and back-combing her hair to desired Dolly Parton heights.

Review: An Evening with Jonathan Blazer at Vault Festival Show Info


Written by Paul Flannery

Cast includes Paul Flannery

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