Working Men's Club

The title of Luke Benson and David Hardcastle’s show can easily give rise to the fear that it will be a rather patronising pastiche of working class culture for the benefit of a middle class audience. The idea that there is something inherently funny about a Meat Raffle could only come from people who have never been out of work, never had to live on a diet in which good meat was a rarity. That aside, my fears were soon allayed.

An audience of fifteen is hardly ideal for recreating the warm, rowdy atmosphere of a Northern working men’s club, but Benson and Hardcastle worked extremely hard to get us participating in bingo, the raffle, darts, singing along. It helps that Benson is a Geordie and covers the territory well. Hardcastle is a very capable comic in his own right, with a gifted turn of phrase, describing his own face during sex as being like a dog who’s just been given a toffee.

Within this framework there are guest acts, in which three or four stand-ups performing in other shows do five-minute spots. Nelly White, Tim Shishodia and Mike Shepherd had a hard job getting much response but the outstanding act of this session was Ben Target. Using a large number of props (starting with a fire extinguished), he is accomplished, surreal and has a slightly sinister, dangerous edge. He is a master of the measured delivery and could teach many other comics a thing or two about the importance of the pause. ‘Hilarious’ must be one of the most overworked words on the Fringe, but his card trick fully justifies the epithet.

The show’s strength is in its framework; its guest acts, which vary from show to show, are in the context of the Fringe generally more run-of-the-mill. The show could therefore improve if Benson and Hardcastle cut one of the visiting acts and put in more of the games. More meat!

Reviews by Peter Scott-Presland

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Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris

★★★
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★★★
Southwark Playhouse

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★★★★
Rosemary Branch Theatre

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★★★
Southwark Playhouse

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★★★★

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.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

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.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

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 £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Comedy, variety and music. Darts, bingo and a meat raffle. Luke Benson and David Hardcastle host an hour of booze, games and top turns to ease you into the afternoon. Ladies and whippets welcome. Southerners tolerated.

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