Harry Hill: Sausage Time, Oxford New Theatre

3.00

 

Harry Hill's return to the stage after eight years  reminds us that he is both a jester and a plate spinner: there are numerous elements to his shows that must simultaneously gather momentum to produce a full effect.

Call it a callback crescendo. It's one that builds using, among other things, Hill's attempts to ascertain what an audience member supposedly ate at Nandos and a story of mistakenly taking his nan to Dignitas.

Yes, for the big-collared one to fly, a lot of wind has to go beneath his wings – and from all directions. Even, as in this case, where the lift is not as high as one might have hoped there is still plenty to wonder at.

"The horses are trying to send us a message; it's not Findus it's find us." So goes the most topical gag of the night, a fine filly of a joke amid much metaphorical and physical cantering around from the 48 year old, the latter sometimes assisted by a Prodigy-like burst of music from his backing band.

On hearing said refrain Hill gallops around the stage, and after one occasion he turns to us and says: "I'm not quite sure why I do that." In reality, of course, there little left to chance in this meticulously built world, crafted by a treasured loon whose comedic orbit might be described as Eric Morecambe-meets-The Goodies-meets-The Banana Splits.

Despite the attention to detail, not everything goes according to plan. Among the exceptions are: the section where Harry takes on singing 'My Way' in 'Tongan', somewhat one dimensional stuff, his decision to reprise the out-of-context Amanda Lamb song, taken from 'TV Burp', and the audience participation at the end of the first act where his trademark exaltation of “Fight!” is met with bewildered passivity.

For all the dips to endure with benign indulgence, there are moments of sheer joy to accompany them. "If you like it then you should have put a ring on it" sings Hill, a fan of the occasional interspersed pop song phrase, before adding the exquisite payoff: "just one of Beyonce's tips on keeping pigeons."

"By the way, this isn't a dream" comments Hill towards the end. Neither a nightmare or a dream, in fact, but an admirable show where the palls seem somehow inexplicable among some material to revere.

Tours until April 11 

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