Friday 9th August 2019 at the Etcetera Theatre, London.
Matthew Cleverly gives an extraordinarily energised performance in Regretxit, a show in which he is both sole writer and performer. Barely stopping for breath in the 50 minutes he takes to the stage, this is a whirlwind of action telling a loose narrative at lightning speed.
The narrative follows Matt, a non-voter who doesn’t realise that the Brexit vote and the eventual act will have an impact on all lives in some way. Caught up in a love affair which he describes with an endearing mix of coyness and comically unfiltered detail, he reaches various moments of realisation. Getting in the way of all this somewhat is Matt’s odd ‘departures’ from the day to day which take him from reality to imagined sequences before returning him…usually in some sort of awkward place.
It’s a dynamic which has worked very well in various productions but here the frequency and the reliance on superhuman speed of narration means various opportunities for hilarity are lost as they fly by. Some cuts and some time to appreciate some of Cleverly’s very well conceived segments could work wonders here.
Regretxit benefits well from Aneira Evans’ direction and considered staging and Cleverly gives an incredibly physical performance. Whether he’s rolling about the make-shift bed, importuning from his knees or atop whatever place he finds himself – every inch of space gets footfall, magnifying the sense of being on a runaway train. There are various entertaining voices and very expressive storytelling to enjoy along with some playful use of props and projector. It’s certainly never less than engaging even when the narrative gets very fragmented and it’s difficult to find continuity.
Cleverly can’t be faulted for ambition or the commitment he demonstrates but the show itself is a bit of a Catherine wheel worked loose from the nail – lots of spark and entertainment but not much sense of control. There are moments of real flair and the writing is observationally witty but it’s delivered so wildly that it’s not always possible to appreciate what’s just gone before Cleverly is bounding to his next spot. There’s such great potential and such winning energy in Regretxit, it just needs some very strong reigns…and a scalpel to remove the decidedly unappealing and rather inaudible closing number!
Regretxit plays the Etcetera Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe until 11th August 2019 and you can find tickets here.