Feeling Afraid as If Something Terrible Is Going to Happen

According to The Stage’s recently departed Scotland editor, Thom Dibden, comedy first overtook theatre as the largest proportion of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s programme during the 2010s—so is presenting a one-man theatre show about a comedian actually attempting to have a foot in both camps? It’s fair to say that it works—for the most part. Though that’s as much down to Samuel Barnett’s no-holds-barred performance, as Marcelo Dos Santos’s writing.

Barnett is absolutely fantastic here; he’s funny, charismatic and importantly connects with his audience immediately

This is a monologue, structured like a stand-up set, in which a somewhat neurotic, self-depreciating and self-sabotaging gay stand-up comedian – for whom rejection is his “safe space” – reveals his growing concerns and doubts about what appears to be an unexpectedly potential long-term relationship with “the American”—who is, of course, an intelligent, cultured and drop-dead-gorgeous adonis. Our stand-up – all too familiar and comfortable in a succession of seemingly meaningless one-night stands (except for friend-with-benefits Michael in Hampstead) – has difficulty coping when sexual stimulation isn’t the primary first-date aim.

Even worse, though, is the American’s cataplexy, a medical condition that means laughing could potentially kill him. For our stand-up, who needs an audience to laugh, this is almost a deal-killer—except that, for once, he’s beginning “to feel things” and “not feel shit after”. Of course, the implied stability the American brings is also scary; and so our somewhat unreliable narrator naturally begins to self-sabotage again. The self-loathing gay might be a cliche you’d hope we’d have moved on from by now, but he’s drawn with depth, complexity and a genuine sense of the absurd.

Barnett is absolutely fantastic here; he’s funny, charismatic and importantly connects with his audience immediately—despite having to perform “in the round”, rather than in a more traditional (and helpful) stand-up-facing-audience set-up. Director Matthew Xia clearly knows his stuff, but in the end it’s actually Marcelo Dos Santos’s script which feels more fury than sound. The end result is that the self-promoting producers of Fleabag need to move on further.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn


One of Two

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Moira in Lockdown

Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Love and Sex on the Spectrum

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

'I’m 36, I’m a comedian, and I’m about to kill my boyfriend...' A permanently single, professionally neurotic stand-up finally meets Mr Right and then does everything wrong. But is Mr Right quite what he seems? And how far will the comedian go to get a laugh? A dark new comedy about vulnerability, intimacy, ego and truth from the Olivier Award-winning producers of Fleabag and Baby Reindeer. Starring Tony and Olivier-nominated actor Samuel Barnett. Written by Marcelo Dos Santos (Lionboy, Complicite) and directed by Matthew Xia (Blue/Orange, Young Vic).

Most Popular See More

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £46.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets