Stephen Powell, Tooled Up

Review in Issue 10-3 | Autumn 1998

Stephen Powell seems to take things in good humour. Taking a thin audience in his stride, he quips, ‘I'd better get on with it, the audience are arriving soon.’ This is a bold beginning to what could have been an awkward hour for all concerned. A one-man show, a small house, a big venue.

Powell's show relies upon the interaction with his audience. He begins by distributing random items: a bamboo cane to symbolise ‘the storyline', several torches and a rubber chicken, to name a few. These are received with more resignation than relish. However, Powell's expert rapport with the audience quickly warms things up. For this tale, Powell, dressed in prison garb and perched on an aluminium bucket, adopts the likeable persona of his father, a small-time East End crook. As the story unfolds, his real skill as an eclectic and witty writer, a convincing character actor and an all-round engaging entertainer, swiftly emerges.

I wonder whether Powell's apparent need to work much harder than the piece requires is to do with Fringe overkill. This is a strong show and perhaps this venue, with its reputation for cutting edge comedy, obscures the effect of this piece, which runs more like an eloquent anecdote than a gag-a-minute stand up routine. Ultimately, however, considering his obvious writing and performing talents, it would be interesting to see Powell tackle something more challenging next time round.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-3
p. 22