Directed by Chris Tomlinson
Unity Theatre (23rd–24th November 2012)

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

Next! aimed to explore the concept of loneliness and solitude in a dark one man comedy, and surprisingly it easily exceeded the goal. I wasn’t won over at first by Graham Hicks; his slapstick approach to his performance initially left me rolling my eyes. However as the play developed, so did his character, and the slapstick subsided to leave in its place a beaten man. A man worn down chasing a dream, a man who as a boy was let down by a father who could only ever “pencil him in” and then not turn up, then as he became an adult he just closed himself off from the world. Living nothing more than an isolated, bordering on insane existence, made up of finding excuses not to answer the phone and surviving on sandwiches of tomato and brown sauce.

It wasn’t in the slapstick we found his humanity, nor in the rather desperate section were Hicks dresses up as a woman (although both of these got great laughs from the audience), it was his quiet, understated moments that won me over. Talking about his nan and especially his dad made his character simply loveable. For anyone who has ever felt lost or alone in the world, this play sums up those moments.

Hicks performed with such enthusiasm - his face capable of portraying every thought and emotion beautifully. He was the perfect actor to play this role - lost enough to be believable, but clued up enough to be likeable. Whilst I got the feeling some of his friends and family were in the audience that night, the standing ovation and massive applause he received was earned. Overall, a very entertaining and thought-provoking sixty minutes.

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