Reviewer: Matt Forrest
Elis James and John Robins have had great success individually. James is a musician, TV/radio presenter, actor and stand-up comic, whilst Robins is also an award-winning stand-up and presenter in his own right. The pair joined forces in 2014 to present an afternoon radio programme for XFM (now Radio X). The show was both a critical and commercial hit, spawning a hugely popular weekly podcast. Back in 2015 the pair began to tour together, and now they bring their new live show, The Holy Vible: a live reading tour to support the release of their new book of the same name.
With the set comprising of two giant promotion posters, a coffee table and two chairs, the two friends arrive on stage to give a sneaky peak into the book’s content. There are stories from their first meeting at XFM, an imagining of Robins in the guise of Jesus, as well as the justice dispensed by Jesus to indecisive people trying to get served at a bar.
As you’d expect, the two have great chemistry, with Robins demonstrating a dry, deadpan delivery and James a more playful persona, ribbing Robins at every given opportunity. The show has some ‘in jokes’ which most of the audience who listen to their show will be familiar with: however the material is funny and strong enough to engage newcomers.
Despite the two having the material at hand, there is a ramshackle quality as the pair decide on the fly which material to go with, giving it a less polished, but more engaging feel. The show has a 70 minute running time: which may seem a bit short, but considering the queue for the signing after the show (stretched all through the Lowry concourse) they won’t be finished till gone midnight!
In what is probably a world’s first, the show closes with a lawyer’s view of the book, as notes from their solicitor’s take on the book are read out. What could potentially land them both in court? This works perfectly well, anchoring some of the stories told earlier on in the evening and is a fun, entertaining way to close the show.
Overall, these are two likeable, engaging storytellers, who are unashamedly touting a stocking-filler for Christmas whilst providing a perfectly fine night of comedy.
Reviewed 21 October 2018 | Image: Contributed