John-Luke Roberts: After Me Comes the Flood (But in French) drip splosh splash drip BLUBBP BLUBBP BLUBBPBLUBBPBLUBBP!!

Hopefully, you know the kind of show you’re in for, with a deliciously meaningless title like this, and crafted surrealism is exactly what is in store. John-Luke Roberts reassures at the beginning of his show, prancing around the stage wearing a felt crown and a green floral moustache, that we are in safe hands, and consistently delivers on this promise.

Like the weird uncle of the Fringe, John-Luke Roberts is always here when you need a reset.

Very early on, he labels jokes as dangerous things, capable of shocking an unexpecting audience, and that he wishes to insulate the crowd from anything unexpected, inverting the structure of early punchlines, to, in theory, provide more predictability. Of course, despite the big reveal, nothing that follows is in any way predictable. Oompa Loompas in bathroom-based relationship quandaries, Rice Krispies hanging out with their less-thought-of relatives, characters trapped inside their own jokes, Scrooge as disturbed gameshow host.

Roberts is a very established performer and delivers a huge raft of accents and characters with a deftness that demonstrates absurdism is now his comfortable first-nature, and he is ready to use it to win over a large and diverse audience. The subject matter is often existential, plunging us at one stage into the abyss and out the other side, where Nietzsche is busy seducing his coffee. Like the weird uncle of the Fringe who has a prescient insight into our deeper, odder identities, John-Luke Roberts is always here when you need a reset.

There are a couple of weaker moments towards the end of the show, where a couple of the character creations ruminate with one another about their lack of deserved exposure throughout the set. It is a neat piece of meta-level writing but tended to distract from the more developed gags in the show, and despite their protestations, I was inclined to think that their side-lining from this strong show was entirely justified.

On the other hand, the recurring appearance of quickly established audience favourite characters was satisfying, and impressive, and brought the deepest laughs of the show. It was at the frantic finale that Roberts demonstrated his skills most comprehensively, running across the stage to ensure that all prior gags got a final, demented, recurring, send-off. An undeniably beautifully formed hour of absurdist madness.

Reviews by Jonathan Mayo

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The Blurb

Blam blam! The critically acclaimed idiot returns with a brand-new hour of extraordinary daft-hearted comedy, following a complete sell out at last year's Fringe. 'Freewheeling escapism... a joy' ***** (Fest). 'A hit' **** (Times). 'Impeccably choreographed, giddily inventive, turbo-charged hour' **** (Telegraph). 'Killer gags... glorious idiocy' **** (Guardian).

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