Peter Searles: Bolivia & Beyond

Leading his audience through a trip he took to South America in 1986, Peter Searles' vivid physical expression and knack for detail ensure that what could have been a show exemplifying the worst aspects of by-the-numbers travel journalism turned out to be thoroughly entertaining.

By his own account 'an out of work actor,' Searles employs all his talents to keep the crowd on-side. From his dry impersonations of miserable Venezuelan border guards to the mime-infused skit where he was roped into quoting Macbeth to a bemused crowd in Lima, Searles succeeds in skipping through his hour-long set with barely a moment to catch your breath.

While many of the laughs come from the everyday travails he had to negotiate in an alien land, Searles has a refreshing number of unusual stories too. Having casually mentioned to an acquaintance in Lima that he'd met Fidel Castro during a Cuban film festival, our unlikely revolutionary was hastily introduced to several prominent members of the Shining Path - the Maoist guerilla organisation that once terrorised several Latin American countries. Anecdotes like this keep the quality of the narrative far above that of your average gap-year travel blog.

A few of Searles’ more squalid gags seemed unnecessarily graphic, especially when unwanted bodily functions are involved. Nonetheless, even here his relentless energy managed to broadly retain the audience's attention.

If you're at all interested in South America, even if you've never been there yourself, I would recommend going along to Searles' show. Though be warned: if your stomach is of a sensitive disposition, you may find Searles' experiences encourage you to stay at home.

Reviews by Andrea Valentino

Performances

The Blurb

Hilarious, surprising, poignant true-life travel tales from the best stand-up storyteller in the world. 'Riveting' **** (Guardian). ‘Fascinating’ **** (Evening News). ‘A joy’ **** (List). ‘And incredibly funny’ **** (Scotsman). Directed (reluctantly) by Stephen Frost. www.petersearles.com