Review: Jordan Brookes – Bleed, Soho Theatre On Demand

Review: Jordan Brookes – Bleed, Soho Theatre On Demand

Jordan Brookes won the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2019 for I've Got Nothing, a show that was substantially improvised. But this show, Bleed, from 2018, is the show that should have won him the award. It was the sequel to his breakthrough Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated set Body of Work, and cemented his reputation as one of comedy's most trippy talents, taking comedy for strolls into strange places.

I was not on the awards jury in 2018 so I don't know why this did not even get nominated, but it is great to get another chance to see it here. And while nothing can replicate the unique experience of seeing Brookes in the flesh this is an excellent taster for those new to his snake-hipped maverick charms. For reasons that we won't go into here, it's a real immersive experience. At times you can almost smell the sweat oozing through his shirt.

One of the joys is not knowing how seriously to take Brookes. In the show he talks about the gossamer thin tightrope he walks between the real and not real. He worries that he might "Tommy Cooper" himself – dropping dead onstage mid-set like the famous comic magician with everyone sitting there watching his corpse for a fortnight thinking it is part of the act.

The show makes considerable use of sound technology. If you want to take your theatre seriously it might be worth watching this in conjunction with Simon McBurney's Encounter which is also aurally audacious and is going to be available online too from May 15. Details here. Both shows advise viewers at home to wear headphones to get the full experience.

In the Brookes v McBurney pseud-off Brookes is definitely the funnier physical act, variously trotting around like a show pony, rolling around on the floor or attempting to disappear up his own anus. He might be the first performer I've seen onstage barefoot since the similarly unpredictable Kevin Rowland appeared on C4's The Tube in 1983 wth Dexy's Midnight Runners in their Come On Eileen phase.

There is existential angst here, wondering about one's ability to live in the present, clowning, grotesque faces. There's a bit where one overhears the phrase "shat myself" which reminded me of hearing a random "fucking hell" in an episode of Father Ted. Brookes even predicts the world's disintegration, so he was certainly on the money back in 2018. And surely being right about predicting the imminent breakdown of society is much more satisfying than winning a silly old award for Best Comedy Show?

Available to rent here for three weeks from Wednesday, May 6: https://www.sohotheatreondemand.com/

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