James Veitch: Genius Bar

James Veitch appears, at first, a bit like a protagonist in a young adult novel (probably one by John Green), in the way he combines a bildungsroman with popular culture, or sees metaphors for life in a vintage video game. He has the boyish charm, the glasses, the technical know-how, and the dream girl with a side of manic pixie who believes in dragons. Until he doesn’t have her anymore, and the show gets into gear.

The show is a technical wonder, with a slideshow that’s rather too good for the name.

Drawing on his time fixing iPhones as a Genius at Apple, Veitch explores his heartbreak with a desperate, nerdy passion. He plays up the obsessive geekery, but always with a sense of fun; a bit about the mouse that lives in his kitchen shows both a focus on the minutiae of life, but also a great deal of silliness and, ultimately, heart. The sense of a man-child nerd out of touch with ‘emotions’ unravels quickly. The performance has an emotional arc that works exceptionally well, even as Veitch explores tangents such as amusing emails and his neighbour’s strange habits.

The show is a technical wonder, with a slideshow that’s rather too good for the name. It articulates his jokes, adds in a few visual gags and gives proceedings a sense of structure. It’s easy to rely on a PowerPoint to guide an audience through a show in the age of Ted talks, but Veitch plays well with his, and understands when he needs to move away from it for a segment. He does very well to get the audience’s attention just where he needs it on the small stage.

For Genius Bar, despite its aggrandising (and true) title, is a show about failure. Not a failure of tech, nor talent – Veitch keeps one of those in reserve for most of the show – but a failure nonetheless. And for all that a breakup is the village well of comedy, Veitch also allows his audience to see the vulnerable side to heartbreak. His show becomes, for a moment, not comedy to conceal, but deeply revealing and rather moving. It’s personal, yes, but universal enough to catch and hold the crowd in their own first lost love. Then, smart as a whip, it pulls back into a series of brilliant cracks and a brilliantly conceived and constructed ending sequence. 

Reviews by Frankie Goodway

New Diorama Theatre

In Our Hands

★★★
Museum of Comedy

Jo Burke: iScream

★★
Pleasance Courtyard

zazU: A Fête Worse Than Death

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

1 Given Head

★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Scott Bennett: About a Roy (Stories About Me Dad)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Rhys James: Remains

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Join an ex-Apple genius for misguided forays into online dating, unrequited love and what it's really like to work for Steve Jobs. Expect music, mischief and the Legend of Zelda; iCloud, Macbooks and 80's nostalgia. A clumsy tale of broken hearts and broken iPhones. A show for anyone who's ever wished they could just reboot. 'A wicked sense of humor. I laughed my ass off' (New York Times) 'Ingenious... One to watch' (Independent) 'Near-constant belly laughs' **** (Scotsman) 'Topically brilliant comedy. Tears down the face funny' **** (Sunday Herald) 'Comic Genius' (FringeReview.co.uk) ***** (BroadwayBaby.com)