It’s hard to describe Discover Ben Target without spoiling its crazy, meandering plot: at the core of this show’s magic is the element of surprise. This is an hour of stupefying, hyperactive, pythonesque madness straight from the hallowed lands of nonsense and whimsy.
Upon entry each person is handed a sweet by boiler-suited, goggled Oompa-Loompas and then guided to their seat. These stylised lackeys are barely worth mentioning in comparison to the inscrutable persona of Target himself.
It’s virtually impossible to tell what Target is like offstage: in front of the crowd he becomes a well-spoken, idiosyncratic, overconfident creep who sits on audience members, changes clothes onstage and shakes our hands ‘to spread disease’. Target’s surreal, elastic comedy constantly pushes what his audience will take; in return, we are able to witness how far he can go. For those who dislike audience interaction this will be hell on earth, especially if they sit in the front row. After all, this isn’t audience interaction: it’s audience abuse.
Target plays with the audience like a cat with a ball of string: his unpredictable and unending changes of direction undermine our expectations without fail. The only thing we can be certain of is a complete lack of certainty. Taking full advantage of its intimate setting, this show gets up close and personal, wearing its heart of questionable intentions proudly on its fluorescent sleeve. The experience is unimaginably weird and equally unforgettable.
His clothes seem to be stitched from a Poppins bag, while his props, which are many and extremely varied, always surprise and amuse. There’s barely a scrap of this show that doesn’t earn its keep in laughs and befuddlement: his constant exchanges with the audience are sometimes shocking, frequently bizarre and always funny.
By the end of the show, Target has bared his creation’s soul to the audience. When it’s finished, we’re all in quite a different place from where we started, making this not just a hilarious addition to the canon of WTF but something much greater. Sitting comfortably? Not for long.