Marcus Brigstocke:Devil May Care

ARC Stockton, September 19 2018

It’s windy tonight; blowing a gale if we’re being frank, and Stockton is fairly quiet as a result. ARC is busy, but it’s not packed.

Tonight’s proceedings fall into two halves., the first of whoch is the province of Rob Rouse. Some of you might know him from his turn as Bottom in Ben Elton’s Upstart Crow. Rouse is personable, but more importantly, he’s very funny. He has a good amount of interaction with the audience, including a nice exchange with an ear surgeon, whose philosophy of “progressively trying to know more and more about less and less until eventually knowing everything about nothing” went down very well. The highlight was his description of having a prostate exam in his local, rural HP’s surgery. His set was a lot of fun.

Then, following the interval, it’s Marcus. This is the third time I’ve seen him, but this time is different, because he’s playing in character, which is a bit of a surprise. It certainly is to some of the audience, who are briefly a bit thrown. As you might expect from a Brigstocke show, some of the material has a political dimension, but not exclusively so. The thesis of the ahow is an interesting one. Marcus is The Devil, The Prince of Darkness, the…well, you get the drift. And he’s here to tell us that he has a real problem: Hell’s gone a bit UKIP – there’s no room, because we’re sending far too many people down to the flaming slough of despond. Every minor irritant, every passing indiscretion seems to be worthy of banishment now, and frankly it’s getting a bit much for Satan to cope with.

As a result, we, as hunanity, have to work out who we really think deserves the eternal sulphurous embrace, so that Hell can be reserved for those who truly deserve such a fate.

It has to be said, the idea of performing in character is a masterstroke. It allows him to sit on both sides of a contentious subject and score points from both ends of the debate, playing Devil’s Advocate (yes, people who smugly sit in dinner parties and play Devil’s Advocate are also, definitely, definitely, going to Hell). That said. It’s not too hard to see where he stands.

It doesn’t all go to plan, including a moment where a gag involving a flaming blue passport goes wrong, and he burns his hand. But otherwise it flows pretty well. This shouldn’t be a shock as it looks pretty much like this is what he did at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. This is no complaint, as it’s well up to his normal level of quality, and is a good night’s entertainment.