At the centre of its big, warm heart, The Sea Is Big Enough to Take It is a story about a non-activist boy and his activist mother, and by extension a story about all of us and our relationships with our parents. I left asking myself: how do we become the people we become, do we make our parents proud and does that matter? In this solo debut Robin Clyfan has created a show that is as heartwarming as it is thought-provoking as it is funny.
A show that is as heartwarming as it is thought-provoking as it is funny.
As half of the (now disbanded) comedy duo Robin and Partridge, he is clearly a talented writer and performer and is incredibly comfortable in front of an audience. The years of experience show as the performance whips along with a fluidity and pace and narrative thread that many similar stand-ups strive for but fail to reach. From the cramped interior of the top floor of Bob's Blundabus, Clyfan takes us from the dizzying highs of a billionaire's birthday party to the melancholic lows of his mother's illness and his coming to terms with her death.
It's the more surreal set-pieces where Clyfan seems most comfortable: from a tragic gig at T in the Park, to a moment of cowardice at a political rally, via a demeaning image of a fat Tweetie Pie being shot at with paintballs by Britain's billionaires. He whips himself up into a frenzy and before we know it, the audience has been whipped up with him. The writing is strong too, especially in the more poignant moments with choice background music and Radio 4 clips providing a tonal counterpoint to the frenzy and partial nudity. He definitely has a way with words: "crescendo of fuckery" and "I squeeze tightly onto a battered haddock" being two of my favourite lines.
This is Clyfan's debut solo show and it sometimes shows. There's nowhere to hide when you're one man with a microphone, and the transition from comedy duo and corporate MC to stand-up comedian / storyteller is a tough one. He doesn't yet seem entirely comfortable up there alone, sometimes rushing sections, sometimes stumbling over his words and not always nailing the delivery of the punchlines or emotional peaks. But this stuff comes with time, and Clyfan can certainly write. I'm curious to see how he evolves as a solo performer over the next few years, especially after this year's intensely personal show. Where do you go next?