The Slightly Fat Show harkens back to the Golden Age of variety performance, updated for a twenty-first century audience.
The anarchic troupe explode onto stage, led by the compère Goronwy Thom, a ‘slightly fat’ Aled Jones (a joke the cast are not unaware of) but with the avuncular nature of Stephen Fry. This highlights the true success of the show – the immediate air of comfort and familiarity invoked by the cast, who all have excellent showmanship and outstanding audience interaction. The convivial atmosphere also means that mishaps and mistakes, which might normally make an audience tense, no longer seem to matter, in fact both the cast and audience seem to revel in them.
From magic and illusion to silly stunts, nothing is predictable and the cast delight in the controlled chaos they’ve created. The props and the costumes have the charming impression of the homemade and DIY, balanced with the sense that the show is in the hands of seasoned professionals. It’s apparent from the off that the audience are watching six friends having fun doing what they do best and there’s a warmth to their performance which is contagious.
There’s perfect pacing to the show. More surreal or touching moments are intertwined with the unruly acrobatics and eccentric characterisation. Each cast member has a well-differentiated character which helps the audience feel familiar with the individual performers.
If you don’t like audience interaction you’re at risk as soon as you step in the door, but definitely don’t sit on the front row… or turn up late or text or dare to have a beard in the case of Tuesday’s show. However, every audience interaction feels in good humour and it’s clear the performers do their best to make anyone on stage as comfortable as possible.
Seventy-five minutes pass far too quickly but in that time you will be thoroughly entertained with tricks bigger and better than you’ve ever seen before, performed by some guys you’d like to head to the pub with afterwards but who clearly live and breathe variety performance.