Blankets, bum relief in the shape of some garden chair cushions, and booze (a nice bottle of sparkly) in hand, we settled ourselves in the front row of Sterts Theatre; a unique outdoor amphitheatre at Upton Cross near Liskeard in Cornwall. You might think we’d be risking a soaking in this unpredictable, showery, autumn weather, but this beautiful, original setting is completely covered with a huge (new) tarpaulin, keeping us as dry and snug as the proverbial bug. The sold out gig also promised to keep us warm with so many bodies, and in the event, our blanket was not needed.
We’ve seen several comedians here in the past; Rich Hall, Jo Brand, Dave Gorman (as part of a nationwide cycle/gig event he was doing!) and Shappi Khorsandi to name a few.
Tonight we were here to see Josh Widdicombe once more. Always a good bet for some excellent entertainment, and earlier in the day we’d also been pleased to learn that Suzi Ruffell, another favourite, was going to be his support for the evening.
Josh had had a rough start to his What Do I Do Now tour. Just two nights before his opening show in Oxford had to be cancelled because of a power cut. Josh, good man, offered a free drink to all the punters still there and promised that the show would be rescheduled (it has now been rebooked for Friday 22nd January 2016) .
First up this evening then, Josh was the Voice of God, announcing Suzi who came bouncing on stage; all long legs and cheeky grin. My last viewing of Suzi was her show on day three at this year’s Machfest. I’d seen her on my own as Dave was off at the boat gig. A few pieces of material from her show then had survived to tonight’s gig, our favourite being the adoption story, which got a cheer out of us at the denouement. This noise did not go unnoticed, much to our embarrassment, when Suzi recognised us as the avid comedy eejits that we are!
There was also a very good Josh Widdicombe impression that had the audience laughing!
We love Suzi’s easy stage style; she is confident and sassy and funny. Dare I say that a friend of mine and her husband who were sitting a few rows back, having not seen her before, told me later that they preferred Suzi to Josh on the night! We think she is a name to watch for sure!
Josh came on to a huge round of applause, and gave us around 20-25 minutes opening material. There was banter with the crowd, including a couple who had been married for 39 years, the male half of whom had built the bannisters leading down from the balcony in the static Sterts theatre set behind Josh. This got him a bit of stick on the quality of work. Josh also detected that we had a very young audience member (it was supposed to be 16+yrs for ticket sales) but this young lad was 14. Josh wasn’t worried about this, indeed, he kept referring back to him during the next part of the show when comparing modern times back to his own upbringing. Oh, and Dave and I also got a bit of mickey taking re the bottle of sparkly which was already showing a very low level!
Into a much needed loo and drink top up break. The rain was also coming down a little harder and we were glad of that sturdy new tarpaulin.
Josh started the second half with another round of applause as he came on stage from the aforementioned balcony, gingerly coming down the stairs holding onto the bannisters, much to the crowd’s amusement. Now we had some lovely set pieces including a long piece of material about growing up on Dartmoor in the 1980s (with frequent comments aimed at our 14 yr old audience member). A lot of his references could be said to be accurate for any lad of the time, but to personalise it, we heard about Josh’s obsessions with trivia, grown up beds and the technology used in classrooms. The crowd were loving it, they’d come to see classic Widdicombe and that is exactly what they got.
Ten out of ten for audience behaviour as well. No heckles, no idiots – always a bonus!
Apart from a very minor hiccup regarding wireless mics, the whole show went off very smoothly, probably much to Josh’s relief after the Oxford gig – by the time he gets back there in January he’ll be bullet proof!
PS: I wanted to include a few images of Sterts but the best ones were copyrighted and for sale so you’ll have to Google “Sterts, Upton Cross” for yourselves!