Saturday 7th October 2017, at Harrogate International Centre.
You Magnificent Beast is the third stand up tour of Greg Davies, and it doesn’t disappoint. This self proclaimed ‘very dirty boy’ begins by pre-warning us of our responses depending on our preferred Greg Davies projects; apparently, as a fan of Cuckoo in particular, I was likely to be the most offended. As it happens, the comedy was dirty, for sure, but nothing jaw-droppingly offensive despite some shocking revelations, so I’m glad to know that I don’t slot too snugly into a demographic box. Having once upon a time been a drama teacher and now an accomplished comic actor, Davies’ delivery is fantastically theatrical – he tells his tales with the aim of consistent laughter along the way rather than driving straight towards the punchline. The stories are extended narratives which delight in the details and achieve maximum comic impact for listeners – if you’re going to tell shameful stories of hook-ups, then you may as well take the audience on a thorough journey down that mucky memory lane. His show covers considerable ground and flits enthusiastically between his teen-hood and present day – and he has plenty of tales to tell.
Davies informs us that the tour title You Magnificent Beast was selected on the basis of a fan declaring the statement to Davies in a comically fleeting chance encounter. The tour was designed to show how we are all Magnificent Beasts in some way to some people, but the specification seems to have gone awry as most of the show is about how our many incidental but invariably poor life decisions may end up being the most memorable things about us… The two ideas are clearly connected though, and the self-deprecating approach to the tragedies of middle age is great, with the show better off for Davies’ affected grumpy bitterness. The examples offered by Davies provide few examples of hideous memorability that most can identify with owing to their sheer outlandishness, but there’s truth nestling in the narrative in that we are memorable to people based on tiny moments, and if those tiny moments happen to be humiliating, then you’ll have an entertaining epitaph. The initial framework fits the end product loosely as Davies shoe horns in a few inspirational quotations to guide us to his next story, but the show doesn’t lose laughs for this loss of the show’s Satnav signal, it merely has a funny, haphazard structure to mirror the material delivered.
There are some sobering comments about his father and medical treatments thrown in for a little variety later on in the show, but the references aren’t dwelled upon or developed into a sentimental segment, they’re more segues for more stories and offer fleeting glimpses into the off stage version of our entertainer for the evening. We are also entertained by some extraordinary press shots of a shirtless Davies caressing the beauties of the natural world with all the blank passion and lifeless eyes of any Paris runway – displayed proudly on a super-size screen, they’re something to behold as a welcome visual extra to frame the show. Other highlights include his various impressions and accents as well as some confessions about his penchant for free wine. Support act Gary Castagnola did well in a relatively tough gig: to engage an uncommitted Harrogatian audience made lethargic by an overly warm auditorium… He held his own and raised laughs for his commentary on the stress of being named Barry and there was some nice audience interaction in his stint, but it was inevitably the appearance of Davies on stage that made the audience game for an evening of laughs.
Overall the show values dramatic storytelling and dirty tales over punchlines, which is to its credit in my opinion and Davies clearly enjoys the silliness of his tales of old, relishing in the laughs from the audience as he tells grim stories from his teens. He thoroughly engages his audience for the duration. If you’re a fan of his work in any incarnation, You Magnificent Beast is worth seeing – and if you can watch The Inbetweeners and be un-phased by the teenage pre-occupation with genitals and awkward tales of sexual encounters, you have nothing to fear seeing this show. Regardless of content though, Davies’ stage presence makes him definitely one to see.
Greg Davies continues with the You Magnificent Beast tour until December 13th and you can find dates and tickets here.