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REVIEW: Patrick Wilson’s Apologies

Dark, introspective comedy makes for wicked hilarity

‘If it’s too dark for you now, you’re fucked later on!’ Patrick Wilson warns the audience, having just landed a self-deprecating body blow on himself. He’s not lying. Apologies is, more than anything else, a clever show. From the opening moments of the show Wilson is unafraid to get meta. Shock reveal – the man who has spent the last five minutes on stage bumbling his way through hastily written absurdist material isn’t Patrick Wilson! One witty video montage later, the real Wilson bursts on stage, ready to start the show. It’s well executed, and one hell of an entrance.

Once the show is underway, Wilson switches from surreal introspection to dark stand-up to light-hearted skits in the same way that he changes from live performance to prerecorded video: suddenly, often, and always for a reason. Every time the self-deprecation hits a little too close to home, every time the darkness threatens to turn unfunny, he abruptly launches on a surreal tangent. He is his own comic relief, and it works.

Wilson also makes great use of his supporting cast. In particular, the characters of Michael Parkinson (played by the uncanniest Michael Sheen lookalike I've ever seen) and Wilson’s own ten year old self are used to deliver some of the punchiest moments of the show. The high quality and professionalism of their acting really helps sell the show.

That Wilson is able to make the show so consistently funny is especially impressive when you take a step back to look at its themes: ‘Mental health’s always a tough thing to talk about… you can’t joke about it like other things’ Wilson claims, immediately before doing so. Anxiety, Catholicism, and life’s most awkward moments are prime real estate for Wilson’s wit. He doesn’t just make it funny: he makes it feel genuine. Walking out of the show, it’s hard not to feel that, to some small degree, you have gotten to know him as a person.

Wilson is at his best when at his most surreal and intense. His stand-up is functional. It’s good, let’s be clear about that, but it’s what he crams in between that I will remember.

One audience member I overheard on the way out said: ‘It was so good, but quite hard to watch’. Speak for yourself. I was mesmerised. The patented Tab Tally says that I laughed 108 times over the course of the hour, and I can believe it.

4.5/5 stars