Brilliant Noble effort

Ross NobleThingsIpswich Regent

Dominic Castle

Ross Noble

Things

Ipswich Regent

FREQUENT watchers of live comedy often speculate about the amount of scripting that goes on with a performer.

The answer is probably that, apart from a bit of ad-libbing and audience banter, most comics put on shows that are tightly written and well-rehearsed.

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Apart from Ross Noble. The chaotic Geordie can't possibly script most of the stuff he comes out with, the lunatic flights of fancy that he takes us on - can he?

Last night's performance was a ride on the back of a voluble monkey, swinging from random branch to surreal vine in a comedy jungle.

Many of the bursts of whimsy that make up a Noble set come from his interaction with the audience, who willingly offer up themselves for lampoonery. He has a brilliant gift for taking a single, apparently innocuous notion and running away with it.

For example a salute of greeting from one front row guest somehow evolved, over a journey of about ten minutes, into the revelation that a group of the young man's friends had camouflaged themselves in velvet and brown paint and now made up a large part of the seating in rows A-D.

He had a couple of rants, one of which led to the visually arresting spectacle of pop singer Beyonce punching a pig while shaking her booty on a treadmill; a moment later he was taking issue with an imaginary and very small pensioner at the cinema.

Noble has suffered a personal disaster recently; his Australian home was destroyed in the bush fires that swept the southern states but he still extracted something from the wreckage by (devout Catholics should look away now) having a pop at the Pope's offer of prayers following the inferno. "Lighting candles after a bush fire? That's not appropriate."

We were even given a little local treat with an anecdote about his visit to the Latitude Festival at Henham last year and how he organised an audience visit to the vegan food stand - for sausage rolls.

Of course there has to be a central scripted thread to his show, but you come away from a Ross Noble performance feeling that you've just seen a one-off, and a brilliant one.

Dominic Castle