REVIEW: Hippo Concerto
Dani Cugini and Robyn Bellinger thoroughly recommend this rambunctious one man show.
Theo Wethered’s Hippo Concerto – a ‘silly group of animals making some nice music’ – is a varied, fluid and hilarious show that left many members of the audience gasping for breaths between laughs.
Anecdotes about everything from bucket lists (“the perfect combination of fun, organisation and morbidity”) to cocaine-addled rats and the stock exchange are interspersed with dashes of physical comedy, converging into an accomplished show by a man not only at ease with his own material, but happy to exploit the clichés in his chosen form of comedy.
Hippo Concerto is a one-man show, and that is all it needs to be; not only did Theo fill the stage, he was very much a part of it – particularly in regards to his somewhat ‘unusual’ but very fitting costume.
The intimacy of Corpus Playroom was perfectly suited to Theo’s comfortable blend of observational comedy with a little self-referential twist (the interjections of Guy, the hapless technician, were a favourite).
Despite Guy’s antics, the transitions were fluid unless purposefully clunky, and there were very few awkward pauses across the one-hour show.
Audience interaction plays a small but key role in the production, particularly in the finale, and was well done when performed; but more would not have gone amiss. We have to commend Wethered on his ability to respond to unexpected sounds and comments, often by incorporating them into his piece – his vendetta against a certain fluorescent-shirted viewer proved a regular source of mirth.
He also riffed amusingly on the realisation that the audience member he had just picked on was, in fact, one of the reviewers.
Physical humour was at times used and provided some of the funniest moments of the act, as well as serving to break up the monologues and improve the inclusiveness of the act. That isn’t to say that the monologues weren’t good – they were. The timing of delivery was uncommonly sharp, often eliciting laughs from lines that would have fallen flat on a less experienced performer. It has to be said, however, that the ending was the best part of the play- its absurdism perfectly tied together the domestic and ironic elements of the comedy into a unified whole.
All in all a proficient, if not overly ingenious, performance which we would definitely recommend if you are seeking a guaranteed laugh, and a great start to the new year in Cambridge theatre.