Dave McNeill: Canoe Ride 3000

Dave McNeill oozes conviction. He drips and glistens with it. Well, it’s either conviction or sweat. Dave’s abundant perspiration is just one of the reasons his beloved gives for rejecting his marriage proposal, along with his paranoia, his belief in wild conspiracies and the fact that he’s “a complete dickhead.” As any jilted lover would, Dave responds by canoeing to China to find the man who pissed through his letterbox the previous night. All this is feverishly explained by a wildly twirling and thrusting McNeill, in a narrative mode somewhere between bug-eyed tirade and interpretive dance. From here, things become a bit surreal.

This is not a show for those who fear audience participation. More than half the audience were dragged onstage at different times to represent Indonesian meals, Mancunian footballers and other obstacles along Dave’s path to fulfilment. In his delivery and comic style McNeill is not unlike a more manic version of Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy, sharing his ability to state the bizarre with a stern-browed self-assurance. “Canoes first developed independent thought in 1989,” he tells us, and for half a second we believe him.

That said, McNeill’s melodramatic shtick does risk becoming tiresome. His repeated use of the same superhero-movie-trailer voice slowly wanes from funny to grating and the audience’s laughter was noticeably less raucous towards the end. However, it’s hard to fault the energy and commitment of this inventive and surprisingly slick one-man-show. You could argue that the puppet-based drum’n’bass retelling of Robin Hood drags on a bit, though not without admiring it for having happened at all. His style of humour may not be for everyone but if you like your comedy surreal, sweaty, overblown and loud then McNeill is definitely worth checking out.

Reviews by Tristram Fane Saunders

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The Blurb

Come jeer at this feckless fool in his homemade canoe striving to answer questions he’s as yet unsure of … and to find the Chinese man who urinated through his letterbox at 1am two weeks ago.

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