Hans Teeuwen, Soho Theatre, London
Monday 28 January 2008
Hans Teeuwen's absurdist approach is much more literal than the cartoon surrealism of Eddie Izzard or the ludicrous ham-antics of a Chris Lynam. An unholy mix of Nick Cave, Chris Morris, Jim Carrey and Iggy Pop (and probably a few more besides), the Dutch comedian is hard to take your eyes off. His opening gambit for this show is to appear crippled with nerves until he tweaks his nipples for relief. The awkward energy is maintained throughout and personifies the erratic narratives of his "anti-anecdotes", which feel improvised (though they are not), as if he was compiling a story by taking each line from a different person.
Teeuwen, who now only performs in English in an effort to push his boundaries (a decision compounded by the murder of his film-maker friend Theo Van Gogh in 2004), has a curious armoury of tales. They include a Hollywood spoof where the hero, Dwight, rescues a woman and her couch from an inferno, only to be mistreated and misrepresented. The plot involves a visit to a Kenny Rogers concert, which, even by the standards of other non-sequiturs, is a wasted journey. However, the innocuous payoff – "these are the kind of movies I like" – is a great example of the charm upon which this show rides, if precariously.
From playing the theme from Popeye on his cheeks, and rhymes delivered as military chants ("birthday cake, birthday cake, peace negotiations at the bottom of a lake"), to a long seduction scene that turns into a memory of child abuse, Teeuwen takes a sideways glance at life. There's a pervasive neurotic angst to the show, most evident in a routine where he's crippled by indecision, an affliction that shows off his knack for physical comedy and "noise-scaping", where grunts and groans do the talking.
The theme of gratitude also comes through strongly in two stories where characters reject his best intentions, one a man whom he has savagely attacked but who won't accept his apology, the other the captain of a "submarine spaceship" immune to the wisdom of Teeuwen's tips on "submarine spaceship" design.
The gratitude of the audience, which had a large Dutch contingent, was quite clear. For myself, I could recognise performance over punchline and craft over content. I smiled a lot but didn't go Dutch on laughs.
To 2 February (020-7478 0100)
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people