4 star review from the Guardian (website?)
Richard Herring: Ménage à Un
Monday August 21, 2006
Mid-life crisis ... Richard Herring
Richard Herring is having a midlife crisis. "I'm 39 years old and I'm making jokes about monkey semen. Is that any job for a grown-up?" The panic is both professional, and personal. "Somebody's prepared to marry Maxine Carr, yet I remain on the shelf." Luckily for Herring, misery, bitterness and inappropriate sexual urges are the stuff of great comedy. And, at least for the first half of this set, the man's real-life failures equal considerable onstage success.
After a string of high-concept one-man comedy shows, culminating with the hit Talking Cock, Herring has latterly returned to pure stand-up. His style bears similarities to the work of his ex-sidekick Stewart Lee. There's the same combative intelligence; the same desire to offend, and then beadily to scrutinize the offence caused. And Herring's riff about winding up the staff of a carwash firm called The Hand Job Centre is pure Lee, in that he works and works the gag, stretching our patience to Dadaist lengths.
There's a lag in the second half, with a too obvious routine about the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting. But for the most part, it's hard not to share the pleasure Herring takes in parading his middle-aged panic and jaundiced perspective on monogamy. There's a clash between his smiley-ness and the viciousness of the material; a dynamic air of uncertainty as we decide whether Herring's imagination is really as brutal as he makes out.
But he gets away with the nastiness, by emphasising his ridiculousness. He'll work himself into a disproportionate lather about trivial things: the pronunciation of potato, say, or the desire to prove that he hasn't been gulled by that joke about "gullible" being removed from the dictionary. And his gags are so smart: I liked his idea that speaking the name of the margarine Olivio might be mistaken for a declaration of love. On this evidence, Herring's life may be in ruins, but his art is very much intact.
· Until August 27. Box office: 0870 745 3083.