I first saw Alexis Dubus perform in 2008, when his 'A R*ddy Brief History Of Swearing' provided an interesting spine on which to hang some very funny material – and a justification to use some swear words, of course. Having missed some of his more recent Fringe appearances, I approached this new version of 'Cars and Girls', foolishly assuming it might be something quite similar: a topic upon which to hook a stream of jokes. I was wrong. Not for nothing is this categorised in the Fringe programme as spoken word, rather than comedy.
Not that Dubus isn't funny; he is. It's not only the humour of his story that helps keep his long poem on the road - along with wit, sentiment and a gift for easily creating memorable characters in a few lines - but it is also the heart; his earlier show might have been about something interesting and important, but this show is about Alexis Dubus, and is all the more entertaining for it.
The joint focuses of his tale are, of course, the titular cars and girls, and specifically the problems he's faced dealing with both over the years. He starts with a trip he made down to the Mediterranean, hitch-hiking with a young woman and experiencing firsthand the strange quirks and eccentricities of the long-distance lorry drivers who carried them on their way – such as gentleman Tony, who could nevertheless point out every 'bang house' (brothel) in Spain. This story is heartwarming in its expression of the kindness of strangers, but also a reminder of the fickleness of love: Dubus was dumped by the lady in question soon after they returned to London.
Further tales tell of Dubus’ short gap year (well, five months) taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of numerous distant lands including Patagonia; falling in with another young lady, and soon discovering the disastrous consequences of trying to keep a holiday romance alive once back in grey old London; and a roadtrip crossing the States - destination: the annual week-long Burning Man Festival, held on the dry lake of the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada. Their 'wheels' were far from reliable, but carried them to somewhere memorable, nonetheless.
Is this 'a tale of redemption, forged in stupidity,' as advertised in the Fringe programme? That probably goes without saying, but it's also told with alacrity, panache and real feeling. Well worth seeing.