Rhod Gilbert and the Award-Winning Mince Pie

Rhod Gilbert bounces on stage, chatting to the audience. He explains the show title, and his nervous breakdown in a Knutsford Services. He shows the pie – not original – and tells of the original’s demise, at a stressful gig.

He explains this breakdown was a result of, after years of being accused of lying by journalists and audience, trying to live in the real world. He asks “how do you cope?” The scene is Doncaster Airport after hosting an Awards Ceremony. He talks about the airline – Flybe – hiring actors to fill their planes and keep their take-off slots. Gilbert explains the drive back to Cardiff, on the M6, needing stops, seeing who the ‘duty manager’ is, and the countdown to the next facility cleaning. He likes feedback faces for toilet quality, but not when someone disagrees with his judgement.

Service station shops entertain him, with directors’ chairs and torches that are “bright as a million candles” as a frame of reference. This leads to bedding togs, and when you’d need a million tog duvet. Back at Knutsford, it’s the graveyard shift, so little food. Just one mince pie. He asks the officious staff what award it won. She goes to find out, but eventually gives up. Randomly, this takes us onto more on actors on planes, his Afghanistan trip entertaining troops, and flying from an RAF base where they like to scare comics. On his way there, his much younger girlfriend texts a picture ‘to keep him going’ while they’re apart – and he has lots to say about aging and not wanting so much sex, role-play, his emissions and trying Viagara, but getting the timing wrong. Back in the Afghan story, he mustn’t turn his phone on, which leads to a lovely idea of the Taliban phoning his mum.

Returning to Knutsford food counter, he decides to wait to find out the award – in his director’s chair – and knew his time in the real world was over. He sits in it on stage. He talks about being from fictional Llanbobl, and a heckler who claimed beating them at rugby. He debates inviting his new Facebook friend, the rugger-bugger back there. At the services, the police arrive and are mostly amused. They solve the problem by offering him a comments card to fill in.

He writes. And after hearing back – a surprise – reads edited highlights. Every possible theme is linked back in here, from cleaning intervals to sympathy for the man who dared challenge his standards, to glad the folding chair was so useful, and entertaining his nephew. They offer thoughts on torch power, but can’t help on bed linen, and clarify the award. His lines here are wonderful, but I wont spoil them. Feeling empowered by this, he invites his rugby-heckler to Llanbobl, sending a detailed map. He waited, followed, and filmed. Gilbert leaves and the film rolls, to the soaring sound of ‘Men of Harlech’.

After some confusion and wrong turns, the poor fool gets out to ask the way. While he’s in a pub, Gilbert leaves a note – and mince pie – on his windscreen. We cut to Gilbert, in his director’s chair, happily eating a pie. Finally, the star of the show is back for his much deserved applause, thanking the audience. This was beautifully woven and tightly planned. Every thread that came up, came back, getting more and more laughs each time.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s so great about living in the real world, go and see this show. If you’ve ever accused Gilbert of lying in his act, go and see this show and feel bad. If you’ve ever wondered about life’s trivial details, like what award something won, go and see this show. It’s both laughter and therapy.

Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

Pleasance Courtyard. 30th July – 25th August (not 6th, 13th). 20:00 (1h)

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