DTR - Reviews of Nick Hall: Dodekahedron

Nick Hall: Dodekahedron

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Laurie Atkinson

at 09:19 on 12th Aug 2015

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Nick Hall's Dodekahedron is a one-man character comedy that has nothing to do with Dodekahedrons. You don't need a great title for a great show, but Hall's hands-on humour would benefit from a stronger format with a clearer demographic. At present, it provides a gentle early-evening's entertainment, but fails to take full advantage of this always personable, sometimes precocious comic.

"Shouldn't have made it a PG", Hall admitted early into the show. Throughout the production, we sense that many of his better devised characters - Philippe the libidinous bike salesman, frustrated thespian Liamson Charles- strain towards material that is censored for a front row of ten year olds. Others, most notably a cringe-worthy Andy Serkis monkey impression, are beyond redemption. In fact, Hall's greatest strength lies in the a ease with which he oils his audience, or rather could oil them, were not his self-deprecating breaks from character and witty improvisations lost amidst a set that is immaculately performed, but tentatively written.

There is a Steve Coogan-like awkwardness to moments such as an over long extract from 'Tony Dench's' ghost-written spy 'book', and a 'what-I-really-mean' narration of a generic speech given by one of those good for nothing politicians! The characters draw a few laughs, but are full of the kind of tired gags that make their retirement on BBC panel shows. Again, Hall's personality averts disaster. "I bloody love that", he reassures us, but the kids look bemused and the adults aren't smiling. The comic wills his audience into participation, whether bartering speculative film deals as Dench or selecting Shakespearean protégés as Charles. Yet the extras are reluctant to be drawn into Hall's floundering set, and not even the audience seem to be enjoying their embarrassment.

An injection of obscenity and a reviewed X-rating aren't the solution to Hall's problems. Dodekahedron's indecision between shameless stand-up and CBBC conscience only compounds the deficiencies of a show more suited to light banter than belly-laughs. Hall lacks nothing in charisma, and his performance makes for an inoffensive hour. Yet for a ticketed show, Dodekahedron lacks the polish and intelligence to warrant the time of the paying Fringe-goer.

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Simon Fearn

at 11:27 on 12th Aug 2015

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Nick Hall markets himself as PG rated character sketch comedy, but don’t expect to be in fits of laughter. Hall rarely managed to inspire more than a polite chuckle, and some jokes fell completely flat.

The characters Hall created were all rather stale, including a Nazi doctor, pretentious actor and Spanish cycling enthusiast. There was really nothing new here, and (unhappily for Hall) bad accents aren’t intrinsically funny. The jokes were rarely sophisticated, and even the kids were unamused by Hall wearing a jacket inside out and impersonating an ape. Certain gags, including some drab puns and a poem about the blandness of modern politics, received no response whatsoever.

All of the jokes were hampered by being unspecific and non-topical, laughing at tired targets. Hall delighted in telling us that advertisements make unsubstantiated claims and pulp fiction thrillers are often bad, which isn’t exactly fresh, well-observed comedy. In an attempt to limit the amount of adult content in the set, Hall threw the baby out with the bathwater and banished any grit whatsoever.

In attempting to stick to the age rating, Hall managed to get the worst of both worlds. None of the light filth in the set was particularly funny, but the jokes about prostitution and a routine ending in intercourse with a bike were possibly a bit much for an audience made up primarily of children under ten. There was even one mildly xenophobic joke, and another insensitive to people with disabilities.

Hall had enough energy for it not to be awkward when his jokes backfired, and his rapport with the audience saved the show from being completely unenjoyable. His improvised banter and audience interaction were actually a lot better than his written material. He also engaged the kids during a routine about Andy Serkis (the man who plays Gollum), but a lot of the jokes seemed to go over their heads.

Hall was likeable enough, and the occasional sketch worked quite well, such as one about pretentious literary types overanalysing pop lyrics. The hour doesn’t drag, and you’re bound to smile at something. ‘Dodecahedron’ isn’t a complete failure, but considering the dizzying array of stand-up on offer at the Fringe, your money is better spent elsewhere.

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