During this peculiar hour, David Elms takes a different approach to the usual bravado of musical comedy in a consciously quiet, ungainly performance. Whilst flitting between two personas, Elms takes pleasure in the awkwardness that dominates the show, which allows for moments of refreshing humour, with the occasional slow interlude. Introducing himself as David – an engaged, middle-class man with a seemingly untroubled life – the audience’s perceptions are changed as it emerges that David is in reality a manufactured alter-ego of the sinister, central-European Ingel.
The show is helped by Elms’ ability to lead his music through unpredictable avenues
In Ingel, Elms has conceived a thoroughly absorbing character and through his unorthodox use of songs and audience interaction we grow to learn more and more about this loner’s strange, disconsolate upbringing. Whether it’s exploring his designs for a best man’s speech, or recalling his father’s incessant calls for him to practice the recorder, all provide an amusing, if not slightly downcast depiction of rejection. He provides an interesting contrast to David, who clearly represents his own ideals of a man detached from the insecurities of emotional and familial abandonment.
The show is helped by Elms’ ability to lead his music through unpredictable avenues, addressing a variety of subjects, from movie clichés to a run-through of the phonetic alphabet, all presented in a similarly unwieldy fashion. This approach to performing does lead to moments of unfulfilled comedic anticipation, yet this seems to be a deliberate ploy by Elms to supplement the overall mood of the show. A few punchlines are overdue in their delivery, yet the atmosphere created by Elms leaves the audience in a constant state of enjoyable unease. This understated approach provides a refreshing antidote to the loud, lavish convention of musical comedy, and is strengthened by an unusual pair of personalities that often left the audience in hysterics.