Pete Otway takes the opportunity in his first Edinburgh solo show to get audiences up to speed with what’s been happening in his life up to now. Conveniently from a narrative perspective, the most important moments in his life took place in the six years between when he broke up with his childhood sweetheart and when they got back together (that’s not a spoiler – Otway reveals as much in his poster for the show). At times starkly revealing, Otway’s debut hour showcases a performer with a lot of promise - displaying a good mix of self-deprecation and poignancy.
A well-worked and thought provoking show.
The six year time span is only loosely applied. The love-story element bookends the show, leaving the Kendal-born comic to discuss, well, whatever he wants. The show is essentially a series of different routines which would work as well with or without the romantic through line. Skits concerning his mother, his stupid lad mates, localised winter flooding, and urinating on antipodean law enforcement officers are all fair game for conventional stand-up, delivered in a disarming manner by Otway, who becomes more likeable with each tale.
Things take a more sombre turn in the second half, when Otway launches into the story of a particularly dark period in his life. He describes how he experienced an OCD-related affliction called intrusive thoughts; the one word term he uses to describe these thoughts is ‘stabby’. By all accounts it must have been a horrendous thing to experience. Despite his confession that these thoughts became increasingly violent in nature (he never acted on them, thankfully), he elicits genuine sympathy; he seems like such a nice guy and his affliction so at odds with the happy-go-lucky person introduced in the first half of the gig.
This second half is, naturally, a bit lighter on laughs than is the first. It would be good to see some more levity introduced in this section as it’s pretty heavy going at points. However, it’s difficult to see where, given the subject matter. This section would probably work fine at the length it currently is in a full set (eighty or ninety minutes) but it does make the hour-long gig feel somewhat unbalanced.
Fortunately, Otway managed to get help and work through the issue, followed by a reconciliation with his former ex-, Emma. The show comes full circle and finishes on a high note – there’s the happy ending, along with a few more gags at the end to tie everything up. This is a well-worked and thought provoking show. Audiences can expect to see more and more of Otway.