Caustic and hilarious self-flagellation
This article is from 2011.
It’s hard to judge Russell Kane’s show because he’s already done it. For the ‘difficult’ follow-up to his Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning 2010 show Kane performs Manscaping as himself, offers up heckles, anticipates critic and audience responses and even includes Frankie Boyle’s imagined opinion. He controls perceptions and presents so many alternate perspectives that there is little room for one’s own.
Shuffling through a Rolodex of personae is his concept, where ‘manscaping’ refers not just to physical grooming but the slipping-on of different roles and various selves. Kane introduces us to a few of his manscapes and the reason he finds himself in search of a workable identity: heartbreak. Attempting to address the difficulties of sex and relationships for a modern man surrounded by a culture of post-feminism and with a background of patriarchal misogyny, he gives a sociological spin to his travails in love.
With delivery like a verbal assault, he overwhelms with aggressive, rapid-fire articulacy, punctuated by Tourette’s-like asides and priapic thrusts that work in counterpoint to the philosophical tendencies of his words. It’s not all on-message, though. Digressions about Cheryl Cole and the Egyptian political conflict feel like incongruous filler and divert from what Kane talks about best: himself.
The latter part of the show leaves the explaining of manscapes as he reiterates class issues, newly complicated by his semi-celebrity status which, as he tells us, harks back to previous shows. Early on, Kane cops to a ‘horrific self-awareness’. This, combined with a manic whirlwind delivery gives him his power as a comedic force: caustic self-flagellation at breakneck speed. Such self-awareness doesn’t make for an easy state of being, as Kane’s restlessness attests, but, luckily for us, in the right hands it provides all the material one will ever need.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 26 Aug, 8.50pm, £17.50 (£15.50).