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Richard Stott: Afterparty – Underbelly Bristo Square

What relatively little set there was (quite a lot by comedy standards, virtually nothing by theatre standards) had started coming apart even as the audience was still filing in. Was this indicative of the narrative to follow? Thankfully not. Richard Stott has something called Poland syndrome, named after Sir Alfred Poland (1822-1872), who gave the medical profession the first account of the birth defect. The most visible effect of the syndrome is Stott’s left hand, which is considerably smaller than his right, which, he says, poses challenges in itself when it comes to, for instance, auditions. Is he disabled? Yes. But the term has so many different meanings that he gets rejected by some casting directors who really want someone in a wheelchair, and by others who conclude he is ‘too disabled’ (whatever that means).

Richard Stott - Afterparty - photo credit, Steve Ullathorne.
Richard Stott – Afterparty – photo credit, Steve Ullathorne.

Having underdeveloped muscles means he doesn’t move about on stage as much as his fully able-bodied fellow comics do, and there’s a thoughtful and subtle approach to the topics he grapples with. The devil is in the detail – I rather enjoyed, for instance, a brief digression about whether it is possible to be Catholic and vegan (anyone who cares but is unclear on the answer is welcome to look up ‘transubstantiation’).

A few situations are put to the test in a quest to determine what, under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, constitutes a disability. The gameshow format was a nice variation on the usual standup method of delivery (that is, talking at people) – the only ‘problem’ with it is that there wasn’t enough of it, though I feel like I’m asking someone with Poland syndrome to run a marathon on the back of him walking a few hundred feet. Best enjoyed by people who like storytelling as opposed to punchline after punchline, there’s an aura of positivity by the end of this clear and thoughtful show.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Welcome to the afterparty, take a seat but don’t stay forever!

We all leave the party at different times but have you hung on until the sun is coming through the curtains, the music has got weird and your heartburn is saying, “you’re too old for this”?

Join Richard as he contemplates whether he has missed the boat. His friends have families, six figure salaries and houses. He has a level 2 food hygiene certificate and acid reflux.

Underbelly – Dexter (Venue 302)
Dates: 3rd to 29th August 2022

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