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Archie Maddocks: Matchstick – Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018

Archie Maddocks - Tom Leishman
Archie Maddocks – Tom Leishman

Archie Maddocks had recently conducted an interview with BBC Radio London about this show, Matchstick; afterwards he felt the whole thing was completely superfluous – listeners aren’t going to come up from the capital and see the show unless they have already planned to attend the Fringe.

Anyway, a running theme quickly develops where Maddocks says something that could be misconstrued and then retracts or clarifies his position without drawing breath. So, he’s exchanging looks with a baby on a bus, but before the very angry people on social media and other places start labelling him as a paedophile, it’s explained that the baby started it: what’s wrong with acknowledging a baby?

There’s a relaxed and natural style in Maddocks’ delivery, and I liked his responses to audience responses, which precipitated further interactions, and so on. But this is not one of those performances where I am compelled to warn people to avoid sitting in the front row if they can help it. There are plenty of personal anecdotes: one that stood out for me was a trip to see relatives in Trinidad. Compelled to attend his aunt’s local Pentecostalist church, he found the thermostat on the air conditioning system was set so low that when the minister invited the congregation to offer direct prayers to Heaven, one of the elders said, “Jesus, I’m cold. Turn the heating on.”

His love of community puts him in agreement with those who support the Government’s austerity measures, albeit inadvertently. He doesn’t say so in so many words, but he seems to be in support of former Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ agenda, in which local communities support one another. This is made more difficult in London and other places by gentrification (Leith, which these days lies within the City of Edinburgh’s limits, was highlighted), but the Grenfell Tower disaster was commented on extensively, as a prime example of people coming together. He’s right: I passed through the area not long after the tragedy, having attended a launch event for the new Playground Theatre nearby, and although I think it was clear that I wasn’t directly affected by what occurred, someone still stopped to ask me if I would like a bottle of water – these were being given away free of charge.

What’s funny about that? Nothing. Shows like this are a platform to talk about whatever issues feel pertinent, and if there’s no punchline, so be it. Elsewhere, Maddocks is unafraid to discuss his own issues with his body image, and what it is like to grow up in St John’s Wood. Let’s just say I would have never have guessed in a thousand years that he was from that part of London, even if hating it because of the apparent snobbery of the locals is, in a way, snobbery of another kind. A reflective and witty show, it’s a worthwhile experience.

4 stars

Review by Chris Comaweng

Award-winning Archie Maddocks presents an hour of biting, provocative, unflinchingly funny comedy where he explores his deepest and darkest thoughts, exposes his flaws and interrogates his personal connection to Grenfell Tower. Fresh from a stint in the BBC Writersroom, this “super cool, super smart storyteller” (Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke and Evening Standard) hilariously explores life, love and loss with a candid authenticity making him one to see this Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Twitter: @ArchieMaddocks

Date: 2nd – 26th August (not 13th) Time: 1.55pm

Just The Tonic at The Mash House
Address: 37 Guthrie Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JG


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