Review: I Malvolio, Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, June 6th

I, Malvolio, Tim Crouch's one-man show, forms part of Pulse theatre festival at the New Wolsey Theat

I, Malvolio, Tim Crouch's one-man show, forms part of Pulse theatre festival at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Archant

From the moment the audience began to file in, the slight giggling started as we noticed a man in the corner of the stage, dressed in a torn white jumpsuit, who was comically sneering at us.

We were soon told this revengeful creature was Malvolio, one of the minor characters from Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, who was here to retell the tale in his own terms.

Written and performed by Tim Crouch, the show, which touches on themes of bullying and madness, was original, relevant and hilarious.

As well as the comedy element, this was an intelligent piece of theatre. It made us question our own morality, particularly at the mock hanging scene, where he encouraged the audience to partake in an enthusiastic countdown, before reminding us what we were actually becoming involved in.

Crouch may have been the only one on stage but the audience was definitely the other character. He called on a young boy to kick his behind, he got ‘coughing lady’ to help put on his coat, and also dragged two unsuspecting audience members to assist with the mock suicide bid. This all sounds bizarre and it was, but we went with it and he had us eating out of his hand.

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Able to ad lib with ease, he cajoled the audience and threw in a couple of local references before launching into a poetic verse, proving his considerable acting talent.

Crouch seemed to forget his lines a few times, claiming ‘I haven’t done this show since March -there’s a fair bit of slippage’. Whether this was part of the act, or genuine, either way, he used it to his comedic advantage.

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This could have been dry, complex, and arduous, but instead was pure joy, side-splittingly funny and one of the best solo acts I have ever seen.

Naomi Gornall

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