Review: Mark Steel in Huntingdon - funny stories of two-pin plugs and chocolate in porridge

Mark Steel was at Hinchingbrooke Performing Arts Centre

Mark Steel was at Hinchingbrooke Performing Arts Centre - Credit: Archant

Mark Steel’s show Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright at Hinchingbrooke House on March 20 kicked off with a rant about Brexit.

Well, what else is there to talk about?

He managed to reflect the mood of frustration and anger felt by a great number of ordinary people with funny stories about two-pin plugs and the Irish backstop.

There can’t be many people out there – whichever side of the Brexit debate they are on – who are not absolutely sick of the whole political process.

Brexit has provided plenty of fodder for comedians up and down the country, but the tricky bit, is finding something new to say. Did Steel manage this – just.

I enjoyed the Brexit lambasting, but it felt a bit repetitive and it went on a bit too long.

There were times when the act was not as slick as it could have been and Steel often looked a bit disjointed and off-key, especially during the first half.

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Finding himself in a school theatre hall in a building opposite a district hospital provided some of his funniest material. The ad-lib stuff about the local area, included impressions of John Major and his good humoured poke at the town of Huntingdon were all very funny. He seem to enjoy his interaction with the audience at this point and was far more comfortable and at ease.

Again, the middle aged man struggling with technology scenario is a well versed subject on the comedy circuit but I found it funny and relatable and the audience around me seem to agree.

He also made some good observations about the difficulty of being able to buy a simple cup of tea or a bowl of porridge without being offered endless choices and possibilities, including chocolate in his porridge. It all sounded a bit middle-aged, but he is, and most of his audience were, so it went down well.

His material about the end of his marriage felt a bit intrusive and uncomfortable, but the stories about his obsession with sport (part of the reason he is now divorced he says) were funny.

Steel has an incredible repertoire of impressions and dialects and this also provided much hilarity.

While call centres, PPI and ambulance chasing insurance jokes have been done to death, I found his take on the average call centre employee’s refusal to listen and plough on regardlessly even when you point out – as Steel did, that he wasn’t even in his car when someone crashed into it - the funniest part of the show.

The show is definitely a tale of two halves and Steel manages, cleverly, to deliver a positive conclusion before we leave to go home.

Yes, there is a lot wrong with modern life, systems and people and greed, but ultimately there is still a strong core of decent, hardworking people who tip the balance in favour of the good folk, hence the title of his show.