Reviewer: Jay Nuttall
Often described as Britain’s only stand-up-comedian mountaineer, Andy Kirkpatrick doesn’t fail to bring great heights to the evening. Andy’s combination of tall tales, family affection and dark humour all came together in this show as he reminisces on the adventures he’s had over the last few years, including climbing El Capitain with his 13 year old daughter, Climbing in Romsdal with drunk Norwegians and helping a blind man achieve his life goals.
From the outset of his talk, Andy was clear that he wasn’t there to discuss climbing, but rather the bonds and friendships, and the experiences, that climbing has brought him. While this would seem a let-down for anyone wanting an insight into the climbs, don’t be too disheartened, as ample video and slides accompany the stories of misadventure, but on the flip side, for those with a limited understanding of Climbing, his talk is still engaging and entertaining.
Andy opens with reflections on his bond with his Son, as he’s diagnosed with ADHD, and starts to consider that he would have been diagnosed the same had the condition “existed” 30 years ago. Developing this thought, he goes on to consider where his personality, and unusual sense of acceptable danger has lead him, and how it’s crafted him into the man he is. Straight out of the start, Andy seemed to be talking at a thousand miles per hour, clearly portraying his enthusiasm and love of everything he’s done, and it’s the small asides which come of this high-speed style that provide most of the humour in his talk.
Unfortunately, it is noticeable from the outset that Andy lacks stage presence, as he spent the majority of the talk looking a little bit lost in the corner of the large stage, with very little movement to speak of, although his excess in fervour and passion quickly takes your attention off his awkward positioning, and drives you to listen intently and enjoy the visuals, albeit on a disappointingly small screen.
Having returned from climbing with One Show presenter Alex Jones just last week, Andy obviously made several references to this trip, although never focusing on it, possibly saving the gritty details for another talk, but his heart warming reflections on changing his 13 year old daughter from a “prissy girl into a climbing dirt bag” undoubtedly offer a greater insight into the sport, the challenges, and his attitudes and personality than stories of climbing with a celebrity ever could.
Although you leave the theatre wondering if climbing is as easy as he makes it look, and if the dangers are really as slim as he plays them down to be, or if he just doesn’t realise what he’s putting himself through, you are left with Andy’s closing statements, which, to a point, justify the risk taking, the suffering, the misery, and the failures; “Climbing’s about the Journey, not the destination.”
Closing with an observation that the climb is about the journey, not the destination might seem like a cliché for any climber or mountaineer, but having sat through Andy’s recent life, and feeling you’ve been a part of it, you totally empathise with his summary. You feel you’ve developed a link to the dishevelled looking teams of climbers who’ve had the fortune of climbing with this under-appreciated great of the climbing fraternity.
Reviewed on 24th March 2014