To put John-Luke Roberts solo show into perspective, it helps to know and understand that he is the co-founder of the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (who also have a show at The Stand in St Andrew’s Square). As such, he appears to be in thrall of the days when being alternative meant being confrontational and idiosyncratic, when artistic gesture meant more than simply entertaining an audience. Or, maybe he doesn’t care about any of that at all, and this show is merely a result of a recent break-up of a long time relationship, and John-Luke Roberts finds comfort in sharing his pain and fractured mind with an unsuspecting public. If guttural wails of loneliness from a man covered in flour and occasionally talking through a dinosaur puppet is your thing, then this is the show for you.
Actually, it’s not as weird as all that. There are certainly moments that may alienate a less discerning audience, but there are also gloriously silly gags and inventive set-pieces. If you’ve seen him before, you’ll be familiar with the random and impartial insults he throws at the crowd, but he finds a hilarious new twist this time that I won’t reveal. He keeps reminding us, with an air of futility, that this ‘isn’t a break-up show,’ and in a way it isn’t; his show last year was just as barmy. There may well be some genuine pain behind his actions (one bit involving Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt and many lemons is surely an exercise in public self-masochism) but it all leads to a knowing and brilliant ending. It may baffle most, but comedy fans of a certain taste will enjoy this oddity. Fair warning: gets a bit shouty.