In the intimate space of the upstairs bar at the Crown and Sceptre Hotel, James McLean, with 'geeky', wide eyed enthusiasm, starts the night with A Kick in the Head and goes on to set the theme of the night, his experience, or lack thereof, with the ladies.
McLean draws on his comedy background and training at the 2012 Australian Cabaret Summer School to deliver a well paced entertaining show with a good mix of music, story and physical humour. Drawing on hits of the 1960’s made famous by the likes of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, further confirms McLean’s 'geeky', other era intrigue. He has also re-worked a few classics to make the lyrics suit his story and there is a new composition added in as well.
He shares his stories well, ensuring that he is giving of himself with self-deprecating honesty. Using good impromptu comedy techniques to react to the audience, the venue and his own actions adds lightness and the good “shelving” and referencing of prior stories and actions shows that he has thought through linking parts of the show together. He also has incredible physical comic ability, reinforcing the lyrics of songs, highlighting his story, making full use of the stage and having the right balance between ensuring the whole audience sees the action whilst not appearing forced or over the top.
Whilst McLean does not claim to be a singer, he does well for a newcomer and, with more training, will be more confident on top notes. He is is ably accompanied by David McEvoy, who also appears to be enjoying the performance. It is pleasing to hear him use his own voice to sing, rather than taking on an American accent, ensuring that his songs flow easily from his storytelling. There is a good use of accents and spatial awareness to indicate other characters. One thing to watch would be the tell tales of nerves that, in small quantities, can be endearing and fit the character, but over used or not controlled can distract.
Whilst A Kick in the Head and Other Seduction Techniques has finished its run, James McLean is a name to watch out for.
Reviewed by Jade Kops, special guest Fringe Critic, Glam Adelaide
Venue: Courtroom 32, Crown & Sceptre Hotel, 308 King William St Adelaide
Season: 6pm, Sun 26 Feb, Thu 1, & 8 Mar, Fri 16 Mar, Sat 17 Mar 2012
Tickets: Sold Out
Bookings: Fringetix 1300-FRINGE (1300-374643), their outlets or online