Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job

A clowning reminder that fictional worlds can tell a lot of truth

Time is a fluid concept, so they say. Which would explain why some Fringe shows feel like an intolerable eternity, and others, like Spencer Jones’ joyous extravaganza of prop-led bonkersness, all too brief. Finding the words to describe it is a struggle; finding it amusing was definitely not.

Performing in character as ‘The Herbert’ (who straddles childish glee and the confusion of adulthood) Jones’ show is mime, but with songs, children’s toys that can talk and snatches of subversive dialogue (‘there’s not even any jokes!’). As for getting a proper job, well, that’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Delivered with an often-maniacal grin, The Herbert’s adventures display flashes of early ‘90s Vic ‘n’ Bob and Mr Bean, as well as plenty more in his skimpy stage outfit. Jones’ clowning training is also clear, having been taught by Philippe Gaulier and Doctor Brown.

One audience member said afterwards that it was the fourth time he’d seen the show, and it’s certainly tempting to rush back to a created universe where nonsense rules and the truth regularly cuts through more clearly than in the outside world. ‘It’s just something to do, innit?’ the audience is told. ‘Everybody needs something to do.’

Heroes @ The Hive, 226 0000, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 9pm, £5 (or Pay What You Want).

Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job

  • 4 stars

The Herbert presents a show full of physical, musical, prop-heavy insanity. Writer and star of BBC's BAFTA-nominated Big Babies and a New Act of the Year 2015 runner-up.