Live Review: Tom Neenan, Komedia, Brighton Fringe

tom neenan review

There is something of a trend for one-man shows straddling comedy and drama in their performance, sending up their star with a self-important persona, and taking us through their 'journey' as the audience is let in on the joke that the performer is too self-involved to get. And Tom Neenan's show It's Always Infinity is a good reason for this enjoyable habit to continue.

Collecting buzz-words like candy, Neenan is a 'feminist' – he tells us so three times in quick succession – and hip to toxic masculinity. His false modesty is only eclipsed by his huge ego. He's a self-styled woke clown on a quest to find his 'missing' girlfriend Hannah, who is nicely depicted by a big smiling picture of Neenan's fellow Mash Report alumni Rachel Parris (her fame only a slight bump in the suspension of disbelief). 

To start with you can worry that Neenan's persona is being a little too blunt with his blind self-importance and faux generosity, but it doesn't take long to get into the rhythm of the piece. There is boisterous fun as he confidently claims to pass The Bechdel Test with his one-man show, elegantly sending up a swathe of his male performing compatriots. A steady building of his persona's determination to make everything about him, even as he lays claim to the most empathy, the biggest love, the greatest showman and writer. Until the show's crescendo comes exposing him in almost every way possible, in a delightfully spectacular vision. 

Multimedia plays no small part in the staging of It's Always Infinity, making it easy to draw parallels with yet another Mash Report cast member in last year's award-winning Hammerhead show from Joseph Morpurgo. It would be easy to say that Neenan has less sophistication than Morpurgo, but the balance to that is that this has more heart. Yes, there's a lot of pomp and fun to be enjoyed at the expense of the young creative privileged white male performer and his own over-indulged ego. But there is also a more generous forgiveness as there is no malice here, only immense foolishness. And a little leeway for foolishness is something we can all afford. 

The Brighton Fringe runs until June 2. Info here.




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