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Rhod Gilbert: The New Theatre
Rhod Gilbert was deservedly given a warm welcome at the New Theatre by a full-house audience charged up with memorable sketches from his past two shows (who could forget that minced pie?) and eager for The Man With The Flaming Battenburg Tattoo.
Although familiar with the Welsh comedian’s previous material, I was still instantly charmed by his anti-showbiz demeanour as he told the audience of his sat-nav related misadventure while trying to locate the theatre. Gilbert emulates the style of a man talking among friends in his local pub and performs with no arrogance or presumption. More beguiling still is the personal and subjective theme of the show — Rhod's attempt to mitigate his anger issues after identifying their destructive effect on his relationships.
As he delineates the hilarious events and encounters of this journey towards serenity, we are treated to extracts from his anger-management diary. Here we see some classic Rhod Gilbert as he imaginatively dramatises trivial nuisances such as the packaging of baking potatoes and a First Great Western announcement that a train had arrived two minutes earlier than scheduled. A recurring phrase is “I know I’m petty but . . .” He is at his best as the dissatisfied underdog and the crowd love him for it.
The antithesis to these unappreciative rants comes in the form of a road-side café that was so appalling (Rhod’s phrase was a little more explicit) that he had no choice but to grab himself a tray and find a seat. This café is presented as a sanctuary and is saluted for its lack of conformity (and hygiene) in a society overloaded with false commerce. This adequately represents the tone and direction of the show.
Any fan of his previous shows will assuredly not be disappointed by The Man With The Flaming Battenburg Tattoo. Many may even prefer it.