Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher!
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 14th Aug 2011
  • |
  • ★★★★★

Right, listen here. I’ve a damn fine show to tell you about. Feller called Humphrey Ker – old hand at the Fringe, used to be an Improvert or some such, also one of those Penny Dreadful blighters plying their Victoriana over at Assembly George Square. Thing is, he’s doing something new this year - a solo show - and it really is frightfully, frightfully good. ‘Dymock Watson…’ is indeed Ker’s first foray into the world of one-man show but he’s honestly not put a foot wrong. As the title suggests, this is a slight update from his normal turn-of-the-century schtick but invested with such a rich vein of authenticity that you’re utterly drawn in for the whole hour.Story-wise, everything you’d expect is here: the beautiful stranger; the evil Gruppenführer; the cocky alpha-male Captain. So far, so Flashheart but Ker has such a keen eye for genre clichés and skewers them so perfectly that it never gets old. One particular aside, involving a copper-bound bible, had me in tears, and the way that Ker sprinkles his Boys Own narrative with wry modern asides keeps the tone varied and interesting. He even manages to weave in a magic trick or two but in a way that never feels like gimmick-for-gimmick’s-sakePhysically, Ker is perfect to play the eponymous Dymock – a rangy reluctant hero thrust abruptly into the wartime world of derring-do. His slightly manic delivery and gift for characterisation mean this never feels like a one-man show but a showcase of living, breathing characters, each of them an individual. This, combined with moments of genuine pathos amongst the comedy, means you seldom realise that this is just one man, on stage, talking for an hour.Not that the tale is ever boring. Comedy this may be but Ker has also written a rollicking good romp, packed with murder, midnight chases and dastardly double-crosses. Ker’s done his homework and his descriptions of wartime London and night-flights in battered bombers have the ring of authenticity. No one who’s seen Ker before would ever doubt his skills as a performer but here he proves his chops as an accomplished writer and a talent to watch in future. Jolly good show, old chap, jolly good show.

Reviews by Tom King


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Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

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Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter


The Blurb

In 1943 Dymock Watson parachuted into Romania on a secret mission. In 2011 his grandson Humphrey Ker (The Penny Dreadfuls, BBC2's Fast & Loose) gives his story hilarious life. ‘An utter triumph’ (Metro).