Unbecoming Ramon Rivas
- Murray Robertson
- 22 August 2018
Meandering family tales with truth trumping laughs
For some unexplained reason, New York-based Londoner Michelle De Swarte opens tonight's show for Ramon Rivas with tepid material on the differences between Brits and Yanks, and, bizarrely, her proclivity for cocaine. Nonchalantly discussing coke as if it's as ethically relatable to booze or pot doesn't really wash these days, certainly not this early into a short, uninspired set. From the start, a slim audience is clearly unengaged, and if the idea was to warm us up for the main act then it absolutely failed to work.
When Rivas finally takes to the stage he's so lethargic that it's difficult to get excited about his meandering familial stories, and he rolls back and forth between topics as if he's making it up on the spot. Half-Puerto Rican and half-Mexican, he has an uncommon perspective on life in the US and does possess a couple of good stories up his sleeve. But his anecdotes tend to waft around before petering out. A little embellishment here and there could really help spark his stories to life but it feels as though he's sacrificing laughs for veracity.
This confessional set is full of emotional honesty about a significant failed relationship and the effect it's had on his self-esteem. But watching Rivas work through his problems on stage is neither interesting nor funny and, apart from a faltering attempt to draw us in at the end, it feels like he's talking to an unseen therapist. A comedy audience just happens to be in the way.
The Stand 2, until 26 Aug, 10.05pm, £10 (£9).