Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen ★★★★★ Bush Theatre | Until December 23, 2023

Comedy as catharsis! From the moment he comes on stage and constantly repeats his age, we see that The Comedian is obsessed by the passage of time and its inevitable result. His signature joke betrays the obsession with death that underlies so much of his humour, and even as he uses sex, drugs and laughter to escape his morose fear, it is ever present. Ironically, he shares this prescription to assuage his pain with a doctor friend, but then, someone enters his life who suffers from cataplexy, a condition which the stranger says means that he could actually die from laughing. The Comedian's modus vivendi is challenged, and he must come to realise that what he is actually fleeing is not the inescapability of time and death, but the realities of life and love. Marcelo Dos Santos has written an insightful, and sometimes brilliant, show that explores the dark sources of comedy and exposes how a painfully self-aware, yet equally self-deceptive, individual can transmute fear into humour and make laughter a substitute for love. The Comedian's attempt to escape the limited nature and inevitability of the human condition is cleverly captured and quite stunningly portrayed by Samuel Barnett. Barnett puts in an award-worthy performance as he swings between his current accommodations to his inner turmoil and the path offered by the new man in his life. His irrepressible energy and rapid-fire delivery hold the audience spellbound as he steps into and out of his persona with extraordinary adroitness. The humour is raw and the portrait of pain is unflinching, but this is a stand-up act that shouldn't be missed.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by The Other Richard.

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