By: Colin Hoult
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Colin Hoult says farewell to the character that gave him confidence to first perform on stage in this hilarious hour of retrospective theatre chat and character fun. Hoult is a man at the peak of his comedy powers.
With a thumping Elvis tune playing in the background Anna Mann bursts onto stage like an effervescent firework. She is in total command of the Brighton audience from the start and holds us captive with her presence like a benign kidnapper.
Working the room with consummate ease, Mann has the place rocking with laughter from the off. A trend that does not stop throughout the show. Gently chiding different members of the crowd but always making them feel amazing while she does is a real craft; a skill Mann has in abundance.
Mann has had some disturbing news for us though. Her heart might stop at any moment, it’s just too full. Tonight she is here to say a goodbye to her fans and to journey through the highlights of her life and acting career just one more time before she has to go, forever.
Mann wends through the story of her humble beginnings growing up in the midlands (the accent she has artfully lost, or never had, we are not quite sure) with a neglectful mother and doting sister who loves to throw sticks with her. From childhood to adulthood we find out about the key men in her life and a smattering about her daughter, Hog, too. She also regales us with tales of her acting career. The names of the programmes and films she was in are delightfully silly and make the auditorium shake with laughter once again.
This show is wonderfully paced. Hoult’s quick placed delivery is fun to listen to. Mann is a fully realised character seamlessly played and a delight to behold. The show is surreal and daft in the best of ways. The characterisation of Mann’s family, friends and husbands are very funny and greeted with masses of laughter and appreciation. At point’s they are also quite touching.
Mann’s turn of phrase, flights of fantasy and comedy imagery are glorious. The names of the characters that have touched her life are also very funny, such as Tony Sandwich, Harold Bag and the crowd favourite, Mann’s best friend, Sue Clinch.
Hoult has a dexterity with word and use of language which tickles the funny bone of everyone gathered. He is also an excellent physical comedian. One particular scene “acted out” with one of her husbands has the room in tears of joy.
This piece has plenty of heart and the real message underneath the glitz, glamour and bravado is about Hoult’s ADHD and how that has affected how he interacts with the world. It would seem now, after Mann has served her purpose at introducing this wonderful comedian to an audience he can now leave her behind and show us the performer behind the dress. This is partly a shame as Mann is such a fun character to be around, but also a fabulously exciting time to see what this talented performer will do next, this time as Colin Hoult.
The Death of Anna Mann is a must see show and the hot comedy ticket of 2022.
Reviewed on 10th November and on UK Tour