Alan Davies: Life is Pain
A recent stranger to the stand-up stage, Alan Davies has returned from his decade-long sabbatical with new gig Life is Pain. Our favourite QI star was met by the whistles and wails of delighted fans as he sauntered onto the Hackney Empire’s stage last night. He did not disappoint.
Covering the seven stages of man, Davies’ performance had the subterranean structure of Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage”. Infancy, childhood, university years (lover), breaking into acting (soldier), fatherhood, his own father (justice) and his Parkinson-stricken grandfather (sans everything) were intertwined in a routine that, as its title suggested, covered all of life.
In a Benjamin Button-esque turn-around, Davies’ performance got off to a slow start, but progressively gained both energy and rhythm. By the second half he was unstoppable. Stilted interactions with the audience and lukewarm anecdotes about his school uniform; an eclipse and lesbian drama students were replaced with a brilliant skit on the modern day telephone user; the obsession with plastic surgery sweeping the nation and most notably, a side-stitching interpretation of what babies would actually be saying if their screams could be translated.
Indeed, it is the fifth stage of life, the ‘adapting to fatherhood’ parts of the routine, where Davies’ humour really shines. From changing a nappy; a bath-time encounter and a ‘mummy’s not coming’ night-time, the facial expressions; vocal impersonations and timing of Davies’ anecdotes were comic perfection. This part of life feels the most real, the freshest and is undoubtedly the most entertaining. Davies comes alive when he talks about his children: his voice rises, his eyes glisten and a natural smile etches itself over his face. His excitement and genuine amusement is contagious, even to those who haven’t experienced the wonders of becoming a parent.
Watching Alan Davies on stage is like watching an old friend: he is an everyman’s man. With his mop of hair, bulge of stomach and sans botoxed face, he is not the normal celebrity we have become accustomed to. You can relate to him. Davies may have played the part of Jonathan Creek and the QI dunce, but he is also just a man dealing with middle-age as best he can. As Shakespeare’s monologue continues: “One man in his time plays many parts”: we’re half-way through Davies’ life and if this show is anything to go by, then stay tuned because this player gets better and better.
Alan Davies: Life is Pain is touring until February 2013. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.