Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
The old saying goes: ‘’There is no such thing as bad publicity’’. Seann Walsh might beg to differ. Walsh fell from grace spectacularly when he was photographed kissing his dance partner from Strictly Come Dancing despite both of them being in relationships with other people. The torrent of abuse suffered by Walsh de-railed his career and drove him onto prescription drugs and cigarettes (he still has not been able to kick the latter) to offset panic attacks. On the plus side, he points out the scandal kept Brexit off the front pages for 12 days.
After This One, I’m Going Home is largely shaped by Walsh analysing his self-destructive behaviour and is not limited to the fall-out from the Strictly scandal. Walsh shows rare insight in pinpointing moments throughout his career where he has messed up. Some of these are attributable to bad luck – a failed internet connection resulted in a clips show with gags based upon descriptions of the clips. Yet, at times, Walsh seems to be his own worst enemy- unable to avoid the temptation of gags that may not be in the best taste and to publicly criticising his own work. Despite past events, Walsh cannot resist behaving like a naughty schoolchild pushing his luck and ‘accidently’ telling a joke removed from the set after adverse reaction from the media.
After This One, I’m Going Home is a very honest show sometimes reaching the point of pathos. There is irony as Walsh reports that, just before the scandal broke, he was on the point of a major career breakthrough and had never been happier. Walsh is a rare comedian who is willing to reveal the tricks of his trade –he used to kick-start his writing by imagining the gag delivered by Michael McIntyre.
Although the content may be bleak, the presentation is hilarious. Walsh is aware of the ridiculous nature of his situation and, being a very physical performer, expresses his suffering in exaggerated dramatic form – screaming, contorting and rolling around on the floor. Walsh does not look for sympathy and is willing to accept the blame for his self-destructive behaviour acknowledging he only realised the extent of his error when Piers Morgan spoke out in support.
There is some relief from Walsh agonising over his mistakes as he re-enacts the football games of his childhood and speculates on the idiocy of a Government that would allow someone such as he to vote on a vital issue like Brexit.
After This One, I’m Going Home is beautifully constructed. The conclusion subtly weaves together references from earlier in the show – to the type of tight smile employed by English people and the impossibility of dancing to The Smiths–into a charming and largely wordless sequence proving Walsh need not rely on verbal humour to bring down the house.
On occasion, the subject matter of After This One, I’m Going Home makes for uneasy laughter as the audience experiences some discomfort at taking so much pleasure in Walsh’s discomfort. The atmosphere is intense for a comedy gig with Walsh alert for any inattention. Yet there is no doubt that the worst experience of Seann Walsh’s life has produced his best material.
Reviewed on 7 April 2019 | Image: Contributed