Reviewer: Matt Forrest
It was a case of “double your pleasure double your fun” in Salford tonight as The Lowry welcomed not one but two comedians’ for a joint headline show: Tom Allen and Suzi Ruffell have decided to take their headline Edinburgh shows on the road together.
Up first is Ruffell with her show Common: a funny, heartfelt look at family, sexuality her career, and the perils of a “free bar”. It takes Ruffell a while to hit her stride and bring the audience on side but when she eventually does the show and her own performance is all the better for it.
This isn’t a ‘gag’ fest more a series of well-constructed stories taking a look Ruffell’s stand-up career beginning at school and the trauma of going on ‘a break’ in relationship. Weighty subjects are also tackled including sexuality and homophobia in a fun and light hearted manor while still getting a very serious message across.
However, the undoubted highlights of the show are the stories involving Ruffell’s larger than life father. Her family provide the spine of the show: there are some hilarious yet touching set pieces worked around the Ruffell family including a fire work display gone wrong and an ill-fated job opportunity in Italy are stand out moments.
On the other hand, Allen hits the ground running: arriving on stage fully suited and oozing confidence. For those in any doubt he lets us know his sexual orientation: he is a homosexual man and a “thoroughbred” at that.
Allan is also performing his Edinburgh 2016 show Indeed: a look at the hardship of living with your parents following a messy breakup: who breaks up with someone on the starter course of a three-course dinner date? As a result, Allan finds himself at a dinner party held by a family friend in honour of the instillation of her new ground floor toilet. What follows is a show consisting of a wide range of anecdotes that including driving tests, 1980’s leisure centres and a disastrous school trip to France weaved around Allan being trapped at the suburban house party from hell.
Allan is undoubtedly a talented comedy performer: his routine is slick, polished and good fun. Not everything works, and having seen this show twice now I feel now as I did when I saw it at Edinburgh that it could be loose 10 minutes from its running time but this a minor quibble.
Allan is at his best when he is playing up his ‘camp’ superiority persona: with some of his comments brutal, scathing and downright hilarious.
Overall this was good, solid fun night out with two of the rising stars of British comedy: both of whose profiles are sure to get bigger and if they continue to perform there shows as a double bill will be selling out theatres across the country
Reviewed on 2 March 2017 | Image: Contributed