Review: James Acaster, Vaudeville Theatre, WC2

There is a theory among performers that critics get into a huddle during the interval and decide what they are going write about a show and that's why we often agree about gigs. Can I say once and for all that this doesn't happen. Or if it does they meet up without telling me. When James Acaster premiered his new show Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 at the Vaudeville Theatre in October I didn't even know the i and the Guardian were in the room. But when the reviews appeared we all gave the show five stars and pretty much agreed that this was a comedian who was already brilliant but who now really was at the top of the their game. As I said, we all came to the same conclusion separately. I should imagine that if you see this fantastic show you'll agree with us too. PS. He's added more dates. See below for link.

 

This review first appeared in the Evening Standard here

 

James Acaster already has a reputation as a comedy craftsman, but here he has surpassed even his own superlative standards. The quirkily titled Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 takes us right inside his mind, and out the other side.

As he explains, it concerns the best year of his life, 1999, and the worst year of his life, 2017. The captivating narrative initially shuttles between the two periods, from solar eclipses to traumatic splits with his girlfriend and his agent. There is also a brilliantly self-flagellating account of another break-up, with the gangly tall guy once again the fall guy.

Talk of painful divisions suggests a Brexit subtext and there is an ingenious absurdist routine where Acaster justifies a second vote on the eventual deal by comparing the scenario to restaurants serving meals bearing scant resemblance to those on the menu. Yet ultimately this is his most personal, honest show yet, drilling deep into his psyche.

While this might sound self-indulgent, the way Acaster constructs his story, the way he develops themes and teases out humorous strands, is true genius. 

There might have been shows this year with more laughs — though this is doubtful — but there have been none assembled with such winning precision.

New dates for James Acaster here.

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