Phil Ellis: Unplanned Orphan

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.

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.
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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

Days After celebrating your 30th birthday your parents decide to inform you that you’re adopted. How would you cope? Hopefully, much better than Phil did. 'Mad and severely likeable' (Metro). Star of BBC3 and YouTube.

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