Tom Rosenthal, Soho Theatre, review: 'Well-crafted cultural tale'


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The Independent Culture

Tom Rosenthal, the face of practical joker Jonny Goodman in Channel 4’s hit sitcom ‘Friday Night Dinner’ and son of the BBC’s ebullient sports presenter Jim Rosenthal brings a  personal tale loosely based on his comic struggles as a hapless Englishman battling with the language barrier in Bulgaria.

His opening act is a breathless and deftly daft rant about Bulgaria’s infamous footballer Nicklas Bendtner and the time he got arrested for driving up the motorway the wrong way.

Rosenthal wittily compares this faux pas to “Breaking into Tescos with an axe and having the cheek to crack open a pack of custard creams, coming out smiling offering everybody one, thinking you'll get away with it”. It’s a brilliantly timed sketch.

A tangent about his girlfriend follows - “Her shower is a tiny space rammed with potions. When I’m in it I feel trapped and want to end it all like the lonely scrubbing stone on the wall hanging itself from a noose” – and is met with rapturous laughter.

Throughout his narrative is sometimes erratic and at others artfully fluid, moving on to Bulgaria, and the absurdity of the nation’s pride in their cheese: “They’re obsessed with their two cheeses! In England we’ve got more types of Kit Kat Chunky, for Christ’s sake!”. Confident and inventive, Rosenthal consistently hits the mark in an hour-long set that is effortlessly eccentric, full of anecdotal absurdity and fiercely energetic.