Phil Ellis’ show was a confused, disjointed series of issues and odd, random chat-lacking punch lines. Unfocused and seemingly much unrehearsed, the show seemed without any real substance, and most importantly, without any concern for delivering a successful comedic piece.
Whilst Ellis commenced with a refreshingly natural dialogue with the audience, this was perhaps the only redeeming aspect of his show. With constant tandems that lacked any structure and led often to no relevant or amusing conclusions, Unplanned Orphan felt exceptionally disordered. With continuous reference to ‘how much time was left’, the audience was left feeling that their comedian was struggling to find material to fill it.
It was supposedly the story of how Ellis discovered, aged thirty, that he was adopted, but a slide-show introduced as old family pictures actually turned out to be a series of photos depicting starving children in third-world poverty. A video of him meeting his real father was interrupted by a toe-curlingly, cringe worthy moment where a man dressed in a cap and a bear mask burst onto stage, wrestling the microphone from Ellis and performed a ‘rap’ wearing a t-shirt saying ‘Sexy Girls come up to me’.
At moments the banter and conversation between Ellis and his technician was amusing, the tech employing a dry sarcastic monotone and indeed came across as far more entertaining than Ellis himself. However, they failed to adjust when things went wrong resulting in one audience member leaving, announcing the show to be a ‘shambles’. I was definitely relieved when Ellis disappeared and we could escape the bear, who shouted crude nursery rhymes after us.
From start to finish, I was unclear about which aspects of the performance were deliberate and which were genuinely unfortunate errors, but this didn’t stop clearly planned moments of real uncomfortable awkwardness - including Ellis traipsing around the audience asking for spare change because of how much the festival was costing him.
The Performer seemed so incredibly unbothered, and so completely disinterested in trying to salvage any possible success that the audience were left feeling cheated out of their ticket price.