Following a sellout and critically acclaimed run at the Soho with his anti-Christmas show, Mr. Swallow is back to pester, postulate and impress at a very large theatre, wearing roller skates on a raked stage. Wild? You’d hope so!

Credit: @capturedbycorinne

People will come to this show with various different expectations — some will know Nick Mohamed, the actor and writer behind the bumbling Mancunian lecturer-come-singer, from his television roles in Ted Lasso, The Job Lot and 8 Out of 10 Cats; others will be more familiar with his unapologetically fast, fun, and brainy live character comedy routines which often bring together various accomplices from the stage to TV comedy circuit. It’s quite wonderfully hard to place Mohamed as he’s such a singular force and good at shape shifting, but as Mr. Swallow he is consistently pernickety, incessant and likely to slip down a long-winded and incredibly detailed tangent. Here we get a near comprehensive synopsis of the plot of Les Mis, a breakdown of the absurdities of someone bringing 12 ladies dancing to their ‘true love’s’ house (?) during the festive season, and a live-sung rendition of his own libretto for the Jurassic Park theme song. Absurd. Wonderful. Unapologetic — we love it!

As the name of the show suggests however, this is not just Mr. Swallow’s best bits. It’s quite a random assortment of ephemera, gently presented around a general theme of numbers and memory. Fortunately for us, he doesn’t get round to these latter subjects too swiftly — we’re treated to the impassioned fussiness of his character comedy and strange little avenues for a good two thirds of the set. But we do then get the more showy-offy Rubik’s cube, deck of cards memory game, countdown style numbers demonstrations — all of which feel a bit more Derren Brown and a bit less down to earth. He’s got the good sense to pepper most of these with healthy doses of rambling anecdotes that keep the ball afloat — but they lose something of the colour and caricature of the setup. Mr. Swallow works best when he’s getting things wrong, and I don’t want to be impressed by him!

Credit: @capturedbycorinne

Introduced by a very above-board standup routine from Ivo Graham, it feels as if this whole enterprise is a little bit safe — a little bit too good for TV. Mohamed nails some wonderfully stupid routines, but the clever mathsy bits left me a bit cold, and I felt that Graham could have definitely pushed his material considerably more. Is it necessary to explain the plot and premise of the Traitors as if the audience haven’t seen it?

Fans of Mohamed won’t be displeased by this show as it demonstrates his signature talents for blisteringly absurd and clear-cut wordplay — straight from the off. However, they might leave with a sense of wanting something a bit more ambitious and coherent. This show is quite loose and the basic premise doesn’t quite add up to much. However, it’s certainly a distinctive and entertaining evening with two very confident performers. He might be a victim of his own success — the expectations are very high indeed!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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