Paul Zerdin: No Strings

When a performer reaches a certain level of stardom, the reviews may come in easier than ever before; with prime venue, time slots and media attention, life is made all that much easier. Far from belittling the five stars I am giving, I simply mean to say that it takes a true showman like Paul Zerdin to make classic jokes a rollicking success time and again.

When the show kicks off, the small space of the Gilded Balloon Nightclub allows for an up-close and personal meeting with ventriloquist Paul, his filthy-minded puppet Sam and other equally dysfunctional friends Albert and Baby. Much of the show consists of a rather dismayed Paul arguing with his puppet. The humour is quick, light and lithe, disarmingly predictable and inevitably coming back full circle to kick Zerdin himself in the rear. It is a well established routine, performed to a tee and woven together with some fantastic recurring jokes. One such joke is that which was never too far from our minds and therefore ripe for the picking: the ventriloquist-puppet relationship: 'What's got into you tonight?' ‘Your fist.’

Yet it's not all about the puppets. Along with much abuse of the front row, including a mind-reading act that seems to out everyone’s inner devil, Zerdin delivers a number of anecdotes, discussing the potential for havoc in a ventriloquist's everyday life - for example, the endless winding-up of his three year old nephew. Among the most impressive skits has to be his adoption of not two, but four different voices engaged in tense discussion, which Zerdin of course performed faultlessly. With Sam as his debauched alter ego, he takes every liberty open to puppets for wicked ends. The final act, which I will not ruin for you, is practically human sacrifice, and an absolute belter. The full package!

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.
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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.
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Performances

The Blurb

With 3 million plus YouTube hits, Paul Zerdin has taken ventriloquism to new heights. It won't be long before his unsuspecting audience notice that it's not just the puppets he's controlling! ***** (Scotsman). 'Brilliant' (Evening Standard).

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