Melbourne Fringe 2012

Neil Sinclair: Panic!

1 Comment 28 September 2012

In its opening night, Neil Sinclair: Panic! filled the tiny back room of the Dancing Dog Café with belly laughs and hearty giggles as the charming Brit regaled the audience with tales from his Whitechapel flat during the 2011 London riots. Set in “The War Room” of his kitchen, Sinclair tells the story of he and his three flatmates’ attempt to stay safe and stay sane as looters ransacked their quiet suburban street.

Whilst obviously well versed in the comedy scene, the opening few minutes were itchy as Sinclair attempted to find his groove and gauge the audience. In these early stages, the just-a-little shy, just-a-little awkward comedian came across as a guy you would love to sit around and tell stories over a pint with, not stare at whilst he walks around the stage.
But as the dad jokes and ripping one-liners began to break the ice Sinclair began to really perform, and lo and behold, here is a truly talented and engaging performer. The props used were simple and effective, didn’t stretch the imagination too far, and were very cleverly utilized with very funny results.

There is something very meta about Sinclair’s humour; his show is peppered with self-reference. Whilst he is a vivid and talented storyteller, this attitude leaves the audience very aware that they are watching a performance, and there is a strong sense of detachment from the story – but this only adds to its charm. It did, however, backfire one or two times as jokes fell flat and the audience was left very aware of what had happened.

The humour is comfortable and easy to move with, but Sinclair is by no means afraid to toe the line. There were only a few occurrences of awkward, cringe-worth humour that only a few may find funny, and the lines did appear forced at times. For instance, beginning a show with a call and response song in order to set up jokes can be risky, and Sinclair struggled to pull it off comfortably. Nonetheless, the entire experience felt like a group of friends sitting around having a laugh.

Sinclair needs a big audience and I suspect he shall get one – this and a few other shows he is part of will continue throughout the festival and I dare say they will fill venues with people and energy. While he didn’t have me rolling on the floor he is a spirited and talented performer, good for viewing over a beer or as part of a crowd of thousands.

Neil Sinclair: Panic! runs until 13 October at The Dancing Dog. Tickets are $15 full-price and $10 concession (group tickets are $10 per person for 4 people).

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1 comment

  1. Bernadette says:

    Great review, Eloise. I was sorry to miss it. Maybe next time round.

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