Review: One Man Romance
Whip-smart and disarmingly honest.
When I told my parents that I was going to see a one man show, they were confused, and then concerned. “That sounds like it could be…interesting,” said my mum, peering at me via Facetime. My dad then helpfully reminded her that nearly all comedy is essentially a one man show.
But not all comedy is like this. Pointless fan favourite Leo Reich presents over an hour of fizzing, eclectic comedy ranging from bang-on-the-money impersonations and pastiches to a full musical number, stopping off on the way for any number of infinitely quotable one liners (“I want you to come!” “AND I WANT TO HAVE A HEALTHY BRAIN, BUT WE DON’T ALWAYS GET WHAT WE WANT!” as well as “It’s so surprising that I’m single because I have the energy of someone whose been ruthlessly cheated on several times.”), all bound with irrepressible charm and charisma and a knowing eye for the ironic.
From the moment we walk in it’s bold. Reich is being dressed on stage with the help of the audience, evolving from merely a tight pair of sports shorts to a mesh vest and shirt on top of that. He also asks hapless audience members to do his makeup, read a pre-show contract or follow meticulous cheering instructions when he enters the stage (my friend and I nearly died with fear after being specifically requested to “cry.”) There is no evidence of nerves; this is his room and we ought to be nervous intruding on it.
It’s hard to characterise what makes Reich so funny merely because he is so good at every aspect of what he does: the perfectly delivered, almost trailing-off punchlines; the knowing, self analytical way in which buzzwords like “erasure” and “lived experience” are expertly skewered; the clearly improvised asides, like when he realises his dad’s listening as he relates a handjob he received aged 12; the neatly paced way in which the show seems to dip in and out of established areas like the excellent film parodies whilst all the while spinning its own kind of storyline.
Reich jokes about wanting to put on something that made people not just laugh, but cry and feel, and is disappointed that the ADC made him do this show instead. Yet there is a ten minute section towards the end of the show- still salted with humour- which was as raw and affecting and open as anything I have ever seen. The atmosphere was almost reverent towards Reich, who having gone so far to build himself up in the first fifty minutes, then tore himself down in the most deadly-effective way possible.
One joke, however, fell flat: the part about Reich not having any viable skills. As he held the audience in the palm of his hand, forcing them into hysterics even at Omegle harassment, it was hard to think of anything less true.
Header image: Eggbox Comedy via Facebook (Page: One Man Romance: Event)