Mike Bubbins is not, he assures us, a character actor. This information is as surprising as it is useful, since Bubbins does look like he just stepped out of either Life on Mars, an episode of Doctor Who set in 70’s Cardiff, or a time machine.
No, this is how Mike Bubbins always dresses, and whether that’s strictly true, it’s amazing to see a man pulling off massive flares and those big leather jackets, almost 50 years from their heyday.
Retrosexual Male is not the satirical send-up of 70’s masculinity that you might expect from its promotional material, but rather a genial love-letter to Bubbins’ favourite decade. Bubbins is as natural on the stage as he is in his in his moustache, and he punctuates his 70’s longing with comfortable observations on marriage, children and modern life.
Witty observational material feels about as old as the 70’s by now, but Bubbins weaves this material deftly into charming contrast with genuinely funny anecdotes about, what else, the 70’s. His strength is in storytelling, and he’s an excellent physical comedian; each tale is populated by half a dozen moustached men in flares. Hopping and hooting around the stage, he animates each character with lively gesticulation.
I wish there’d been a little more of this stuff, and often when the show reaches for that juicy, low-hanging observational fruit, I found myself zoning out. Things might have been better if Bubbins had stuck to more of the on-brand stories about how frankly insane the 70’s could be, and to his credit this was a first show. I’m sure Retrosexual Male will zero in on the best stuff as its run continues throughout the Fringe. As is, it’s a warm, comfortable, comedy show. While I never found myself laughing out loud very much, Bubbins is affable, funny company, and everyone else was in hysterics so what do I know.