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Matthew Kelly the Musical – Edinburgh Festival review

Friday, August 17 2012

Some sparkling improv saves what was an occasionally gruelling hour from Matthew Kelly


Matthew Kelly

Bewigged with a massive beehive Afro and adorned with a glitter goatee, Matthew Kelly (played by Karl Schultz) sashays his way through his set in a kind of disaffected malaise. With his languorous air and deadpan delivery, he’s a very good performer, and at times very funny. His humour is crafted on the awkward-so-it’s-funny model, which seems to be more popular now than ever before. Sitting beside you to offer advice, calling you up onstage to appreciate his Descartes impression, calling you up onstage to give you life coaching – Kelly’s routine revolves around his making his audience squirm, and if you’re not fond of the spotlight yourself, it’s inadvisable you see this show.

He’s not a one trick pony, nor are his encounters with his public mean or malicious. For all his languid demeanour, he’s quick on his comebacks – and it was in the brilliance of some of his ripostes that the potential of this kind of haphazard unscripted character-driven comedy really started to sparkle. The unexplained absurdity of his creation, the misnomer of the title (there’s no music involved), the obscure topics of conversation – all this makes for a strangely compelling stage presence.

As a show, however, it's still largely lacking and it begins to take its toll – ultimately there is not enough material to warrant an hour. The second half predominantly centred around one unlucky audience member, whose life was put up for inspection – and while there was no nastiness about it, and there were many funny moments (particularly a good angel/bad angel dialogue), its success was almost certainly down to this particular individual, who remained unflustered, took it on the chin, and had more than a few things to say for himself. When a less capable audience member is called upon, I imagine a lead balloon would float better.

Matthew Kelly is a wonderful performer and it will be exciting to see how his act develops. Currently he's got the character but not the material. With a bit more structure (while not losing the off-the-cuff retorts), this could develop into something truly enjoyable.

2.5 stars

Matthew Kelly the Musical is on at 2.50pm at Buffs Club


Review written by Sarah Sharp

Discussion

#1
August 21 2012, 4.47pm
Ant&Gill
Just returned from a full week at the Fringe and can state without question that this show was the funniest thing we saw. Lets hope he gets the break he richly deserves.
While we were there he improvised a Ghanian version of the Faulty Towers German sketch which was just superb, as well as similar takes on Eastenders, Big Brother & Only Fools.
Great entertainment!!
#2
August 22 2012, 2.38pm
davel
who is this at this time-a show stoppin line from one of the funniest shows i have seen ,this guy is so off the wall its unbelievable he is so quick witted and his bond with the audience was there from the outset .

9 People watched the show the day i went but the laughter was non stop from everyone -good luck to this artist and as the reviewer says he could be a sensation with some more off the wall material which i am sure is in that great mind .

Thank you Matthew and good luck in your quest .

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