Bill Hicks: Dark Poet (2 stars)

This article is from 2015

Bill Hicks: Dark Poet

Hicks saw life as just a ride but this show is a bumpy journey

Ten years after the 1994 death of iconic comic Bill Hicks, actor Chas Early brought Slight Return to Edinburgh. Another decade further on and with the Hicks legend stoically refusing to burn out, Mike Fish gives us Dark Poet. While Early sought to transpose Hicks’ material onto a post-9/11 world as evidence of its timeless value (you sense the Texan would have been less than amazed at another Bush in the White House and a new Gulf War setting the Middle East ablaze), it’s harder to spot what Fish seeks to achieve with his theatre / stand-up performance.

Early looked a bit like Hicks and had the Southern stand-up / preacher’s vocals and movement down to a tee. Fish is less successful on those fronts while his attempts to recreate the Hicks magic with a spot of front-row bantering are a mistake. Culled from Agent of Evolution, a biog by Kevin Booth (one of Hicks’ lifelong confidantes), the show will tell fans little they didn’t already know about Hicks’ conflicted attitudes towards drugs, pornography and America, and the strained relations he had with his parents and audiences.

As Dark Poet returns to the shadows, it might be time for even the most passionate acolytes to let his memory rest in peace. Until, that is, Russell Crowe unleashes the dreaded biopic on us.

Just the Tonic @ The Caves, 0330 220 1212, until 23 Aug (not 18), 8.45pm, £5 (£3).

Bill Hicks: Dark Poet

  • 2 stars

Mike Fish Based upon the life of the influential and acerbic comedian, Bill Hicks: Dark Poet is a fusion between traditional storytelling monodrama and modern stand-up. Framed as a typical Bill Hicks stand-up gig, the play depicts Hicks at the end of his short but action-packed life, ruminating on a variety of topics.