“I’ve done absolutely no flyering for this show,” says Alexis Dubus, “so I have no idea why you’re here.” On the evidence of …
It may not be the final destination, but it’s a charming piece of in-flight entertainment.
Better known for his tres chic comedy alter-ego Marcel Lucont, Dubus is also a talented comic poet. While he won plaudits for his sleek 2013-14 stand-up poem Cars and Girls, his 2016 outing has more of a cobbled-together feel. Loosely following the theme of international travel, it’s equal parts comedy, poetry and song.
As a comic poet, Dubus he has a good deal of formal nous (as proven by a deft, filthy poem about bananas in ballad-metre), but his material occasionally feel a little slack; a Noel Coward-esque ditty about a belching masseuse begins well, but outstays its welcome.
The poems are presented as the main attraction here, but Dubus’s verbal acuity and skilful wordplay is sharpest in his stand-up. His immensely likeable, laid-back persona puts the audience almost too much at ease; presented as throwaway introductions, his well-crafted zingers occasionally sail over the audiences’ heads.
At their best, his songs aim for something more than a series of jokes. Things You Didn’t Need to Say is amusing, surprising and ultimately rather moving; beginning as an observational riff on grammar pedantry, it morphs into a touching snapshot of a failed relationship.
The theatrical touches work well: Dubus enters in a tatty velvet suit, playing the world’s smallest ukulele, and immediately has the audience eating out of his hand. The show as a whole would benefit more from these moments, and could use a tighter structure. Dubus acknowledges his haphazard approach to sequencing his material: after a brilliant musical number, he quips, “You’d think that’d be the end, wouldn’t you? It’s not.” Unfortunately, the poem that follows it comes as an anticlimax. …Verses the World finds Dubus as witty and engaging as always, but this feels like a transitional show for him; it will be fascinating to see where he goes next. It may not be the final destination, but it’s a charming piece of in-flight entertainment.