Eshaan Akbar enters the stage through a gap in the curtain; grinning wickedly, donning an enthusiastic thumbs up. ‘That was my agent’s idea’. The first quip in what was to be a cleverly calculated hour of high-status satire.
Akbar opens his set by asking his audience at the Gilded Balloon Teviot to cheer if they happened to be in love. A lacklustre groan indicated that there were but a lucky few amongst us. He uses this as a thematic basis for a strong script which touches on masculinity, Asian culture, marriage, dating and, bravely, his experience as a victim of sexual assault.
Melancholic moments such as these provide intelligent shading, especially when he chooses to satirise risqué subjects such as unconscious bias, homosexuality in Islam, and feminism throughout the performance. With such strong material on personal experience, I felt that Akbar could afford to lay off these indelicate subjects just slightly as, at an excess, such tropes could be considered a little hack.
Though Akbar’s writing is successfully observational, using misdirection at multiple corners, his anecdotes really stole the show for me. His tale of testicular torsion (look it up…or maybe don’t?) really utilised schadenfreude to a degree I didn’t realise was physically possible. I cry-laughed.
A confessional and warm hour of carefully crafted comedy.