Joz Norris at Soho Theatre: synchronise your thinkronising with a madcap magic meltdown
This brilliant show was a Fringe highlight – now it’s landed in London
At the outset he claims grandly that he is no longer even a comedian. That would be far too silly. Instead he is now a “magician supremo” and proves this with a few entry level quickfire illusions. David Copperfield need not feel threatened.
This is all a preamble to Norris getting inside our heads and “synchronising your thinkronising”. But in the noble knockabout tradition of Tommy Cooper things soon start to go pear-shaped for the man with various catchphrases including, for no apparent reason, “fresh fruit”. Norris is assisted by fellow Weirdo Ben Target as his wingman, running the technical side and occasionally running onstage, adding audio effects, sound cues and calmly trying to keep things on track whenever they veer off piste.
Magic is often about misdirection and there is plenty of misdirection in this multi-layered production. Set-pieces send the narrative flying off at tangents. There is a oddball anecdote about a Scottish walking holiday, a call from his bank that suggests Norris is in a financial mess.
A story about a sausage baguette which turns out to lack sufficient sausage is surely a metaphor for life not living up to expectations. But one is never quite sure. How seriously should we take a man in a top hat and white underpants, even if he is supported by the Arts Council?
Norris certainly puts everything into a high-octane performance that never lets up. There is bombast, but also vulnerability. After his stage character’s initial confidence, it is clear that beneath the bravado this is a creation on the cusp of a meltdown.
Comedy fans who want to see spoof mind-reading, sausage-related nonsense or a toy rabbit being revived will not be shortchanged. The humour ranges from the wilfully scatalogical to, in one particularly dark routine, the positively nightmarish.
Norris is using magic to explore mental health, the human condition and what it means to lead a productive life. Blink is a show that is not short on ambition. Even when it does not quite hang together it still packs a terrific punch.