Review: Rob Brydon, Traverse Theatre

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INTIMACY has been at the heart of much of Rob Brydon’s best work. From his in-cab conversations as Keith Barret to the welcome in the hillside offered by Gavin & Stacey’s Uncle Bryn, so this cosy tete-a-tete-a-tete between Brydon, the Scotsman’s Lee Randall and the audience suited the talented Welshman down to the ground.

Essentially this was a marketing opportunity for Brydon’s new memoir and the show, at least the first half, was full of very funny and occasionally touching anecdotes, from his birth to the precocious schoolboy who would perform at the drop of hat, or indeed the opening of a cassock, as well as his days of student struggle. The crowd was also treated to Brydon’s journey through local radio, shopping channels, becoming a voiceover king and on to his breakthrough with the bittersweet Marion & Geoff.

Undoubtedly Randall had many questions to ask Brydon but she got through very few in the end as each one asked set the comic off on a series of inventive skits packed with voices and characters. Clearly Brydon’s childhood love of showing off has never left him.

His desire to entertain was never more in evidence than when the crowd got to grill him themselves. In fairness he did attempt to answer their questions but each response came with a visit from Ronnie Corbett, Tom Jones or his fantastically enjoyable if slightly freaky Small Man in a Box.

If they were troubled by his failure to give a straight answer to a straight question then the audience never showed it and they were clearly more than happy to be in the company of whoever Brydon wished to conjure up. The highlight of his playful imaginings was his magnificent take on Al Pacino reading the Gruffalo.

Plenty of performers carry their success and fame like a weight on their shoulders, Rob Brydon has worked 20-plus years to become the overnight success that he is and the great pleasure of this intimate evening was in watching this extraordinarily likeable performer revel in having made it to the top.