alex horne – ‘monsieur butterfly’, pleasance theatre (islington)

Alex Horne – Monsieur Butterfly

I love Edinburgh preview shows. There are some fantastic ones which are really cheap, as they are always a ‘Work In Progress’. I’m lucky that my local pub, Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub has the fabulous Red Imp Comedy Club that plays host to many acts. But, there are shows going on all over London, and one of the busiest is the brilliant Pleasance Theatre just off of Caledonian Road. It has a twin in Edinburgh, so it’s hardly surprising.

Being so busy recently, I’ve only been able to book to see a couple of shows, but last week saw Alex Horne (minus his Horne Section this time). If you don’t listen to Radio 4, you may not yet have heard of Alex Horne. The Horne Section mixes a 5 piece lounge band with comedy. Yes, I know how that sounds, but it works in an irresistible, innocent silly way.

So, Monsieur Butterfly is more of the same but with an absence of musicians.

The show was in The Pleasance’s Stage Space, which is undeniably tiny – it can’t hold more than about 30 people. But this gave the show an intimacy which Alex Horne works really with. His amiable, easy-going inclusive nature meant that even though there was some audience participation necessary – it wasn’t as if anyone was worried that they would have been made to look stupid, the participants really felt like they were helping him out – and for the first time EVER at a comedy show, I wished that *I* had been one of the people picked! I’m usually one of those that wants to sit at the back, just in case…

I don’t want to give too much away about the actual theme of the show, as it’s a pretty ingenious idea, but suffice to say that the audience was entranced, and on absolute tenterhooks willing Alex on to a successful climax – the tension in the air was palpable. We were all rooting for him!

However, a successful climax (ooer) wasn’t the be all and end all, it was the journey. The show was peppered with little anecdotes, childhood stories and very amusing set-ups.

I see quite a lot of comedy shows, but I have to say that there was one particular moment that was SO silly that I really did worry that I was going to leak! It was extremely simple, but so well delivered, complete with audience participation, and the entire place erupted, and took ages to settle down.

At only about 50 minutes long, and just £5 at The Pleasance (playing again next Wednesday – 25th June), I really recommend that you get a ticket if you can…or catch him in Edinburgh of course!

(Edit: Have just seen that he’s also on at The Bowler Hat in St Paul’s next Friday, June 27th – but that is £15, although Time Out are currently offering half-price tickets)

coalition, pleasance theatre

Coalition

I was totally spoilt last night as a lovely friend treated me to theatre and a meal as a belated birthday pressie.

We went off to the Pleasance Theatre, just round the corner from Caledonian Road tube station.  The Pleasance Theatre and The George Shillibeer (the gorgeous pub below) inhabit the space that used to be the London Omnibus Company (the omnibus was created by George Shillibeer – hence the name).  It’s an unexpectedly lovely space!

We went on the exact right night to see Coalition, considering the Eastleigh by-election was going on at the time!

The play starts with various news reel segments from the last election, finishing on the fact that we’re now under a coalition government (as if we hadn’t realised) and finished with “Four years later…”

Thom Tuck plays Nick Clegg – I mean Matt Cooper, Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister whose ratings aren’t great, who doesn’t seem to have the ear of the Prime Minister any more and whose own MPs are threatening to defect.  His supporters are angry that policies haven’t been going through and he doesn’t seem able to make anyone happy at all – including his wife.

Phil Jupitus is frivilously wonderful as the Rt Hon Sir Francis Whitford MP, Minister without Portfolio – a rather dandy, spat-attired, camp Tory with a penchant for eating fruit and an unnerving ability to perfectly time a text announcment of his immenent arrival.

Jo Caulfield plays the Lib Dem Chief Whip – trying to balance Whitford’s gossiping and undermining with Cooper’s frantic, almost unstable demands with what she feels is really best for her party.

With Jessica Regan as Cooper’s special advisor, these main four characters give extremely strong performances.  They are almost TOO believable!  I had to keep reminding myself that this is actually a work of fiction and although based loosely on current affairs, isn’t a documentary!

Most disconcerting was Thom Tuck, who many MANY times looked exactly like Nick Clegg.  Scary stuff!  Alistair Barrie also gave a brilliant performance as a ‘wronged’ Lib Dem who then forces a by-election…and I would really have enjoyed seeing more of him!

I highly recommend this – it’s only on til 10th March (a week on Sunday) and the tickets are just £14.  If you have a chance to see it, make sure that you do.  Brilliant script (which is available to buy, and I wish I had!) and brilliant performances.  What more could you ask for.

Also, if you book in advance, the George Shillibeer do a special pre and post theatre deal of £10 for two courses – and although a standard pub grub offer, the quality of the food is excellent, so again I would highly recommend…but you can only get the offer if you book!

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