There is only one way that Gavin Robertson can possibly start Bond!, his one-man parody of Ian Fleming’s greatest creation. Walking out into a single spotlight, sharply dressed and with hair slicked back, he faces the audience, pulls out a gun and fires.
This makes for a deeply frustrating fifty minutes: on the one hand Robertson’s performance is admirable - deeply impressive in fact - but the theatrical content, barring the occasional film reference, is weak and uninspired.
What follows is a wonderfully inventive spoof James Bond story that lovingly sends up the clichés of the films using nothing more than three door-frames and a brilliant physical performance from Robertson. Everything from a handgun to a laser-cutter Rolex is mimed with the utmost precision; Robertson elegantly and convincingly conjures everything out of thin air in an impressively choreographed display that is joyful to watch.
The story, like that of most of the films, isn’t really that important. There’s a girl with a terrible name, an evil villain with a somewhat far-fetched plan – Robertson even manages to squeeze in a car chase. The final twist is a clever one that raises questions about the relationship between authors and the characters they create, although Bond! is no Pirandellian drama: the plot is unashamed hokum from beginning to end and really only exists to allow Robertson to show off his undeniable skill. He charges through the show at great speed and there are some great set-pieces along the way, including a museum break-in that’s fraught with peril and Bond making a characteristically outlandish escape.
Where the show is at its funniest is the simple observational parody material about the Bond films themselves; there are some lovely in-jokes for fans of the series. Much of the actual comic material here is disappointingly lazy though – there are too many bad wordplays and puns in the text. The mime, though brilliantly accomplished, often falls back on immature images. There are only so many times you can watch characters caress themselves in the shower and still find it amusing.
This makes for a deeply frustrating fifty minutes: on the one hand Robertson’s performance is admirable - deeply impressive in fact - but the theatrical content, barring the occasional film reference, is weak and uninspired. If anything, Bond! is a stirred martini: the ingredients are all there but something just doesn’t feel right.