Home » London Theatre Reviews » Ian Smith: Crushing at Soho Theatre | Review

Ian Smith: Crushing at Soho Theatre | Review

Northerners, Ian Smith tells his London audience, don’t have it easy, with a couple of punters also from the People’s Republic of Yorkshire agreeing with his observation that certain people from certain places (that is, ‘upper middle class’ people – his choice of category – from the south) are often patronising. It’s not a universal sentiment: who would have turned up to his show at Soho Theatre if it was? Nonetheless, perhaps some keyboard warriors on social media have too much time on their hands if they wax lyrical about the supposedly correct pronunciation of the letter ‘H’.

(Older) Ian Smith - Comedy Central Live
(Older) Ian Smith – Comedy Central Live

Hailing from Goole, Smith isn’t exactly a poster boy for its tourist board (not that it has one), though there’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind a local newspaper headline about a vending machine installation. It would, frankly, be better than some recent London headlines at the time of writing, about deaths by stabbing and savage injuries caused by out-of-control dogs.

Anyway, the thing about audience interaction is that the outcome can be unpredictable – one conversation at the performance I attended went so off-piste I can’t tell you what it was about, not because I’m sworn to secrecy, but because I just didn’t know what was going on. But Smith handled it well, and elsewhere, it says something about his progression to performing in fully staffed venues (as opposed to ones with only minimal and overworked bar staff) that a punchline about irritating ushers had to be prefaced with a clarification that the ushers in this venue were good people.

The show isn’t, we’re emphatically told, about a breakup, but rather about stress. Smith is, to give credit where credit is due, a man of his word, even if technically it’s about de-stressing, or even more specifically, trying to de-stress in miscellaneous ways with varying degrees of success. The show had to be about his own experiences, he says, because his family is too ‘normal’, in the sense that there isn’t anything they do or say that would be worth putting in a standup show. It was remarkable how relatively mundane things, such as hotel booking gone awry or a casting call that didn’t turn out to be as glamorous as he had hoped, seemed to make substantial contributions to Smith’s stress levels.

His frustration was so palpable it was little wonder that there was much sympathy with someone who apparently poured the contents of one hundred bottles of wine away in anger after their employment contract was terminated, a feat which would indeed take considerable time and effort (the wine pouring, that is). Perhaps inspired by such actions, he had his own ways of extreme cathartic release, including a ‘tank demolition experience’ overseas, recounted in glorious detail.

Refreshingly, it’s all easy to follow – the comedic ranting might be a tad shouty for some but there are genuine laughs to be had here. An enjoyable and entertaining comedy hour.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Three classic and timeless themes. Fresh from a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Ian Smith brings his critically acclaimed and multi-award nominated show to Soho Theatre.

Ebdon Management presents
Ian Smith: Crushing
Mon 2 – Sat 7 Oct 23

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