Mark Watson At The Norwich Playhouse Reviewed
There is much to ponder about Mark Watson’s affinity with Norwich, he spends the first few minutes of the gig acknowledging that fact and chatting with the audience, but is playfully unsure exactly why he has appeared at the Playhouse more times than any other venue in his career thus far.
Tonight’s gig (10th September) has the air of being an adjunct, a potentially spicy ‘work in progress’, but that’s only half of the story. Mark is performing a show that he’s only ever carried out at the Edinburgh Festival and it’s pleasing that he has decided to bring it to Norwich to try out on a trusted audience.
The night is comparatively short, a brisk 70 mins, but there is genuine warmth in the room generated by Mark’s rambling Norfolk-centric introduction. The show itself takes the shape of an intentionally ragged powerpoint presentation, outlining the story of his own experience while taking part in the somewhat brutal and ridiculous reality TV show ‘Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls’ in 2017.
Watson takes us behind the scenes of the show and gives us a glimpse into the slightly desperate world of micro-celebrity, but that’s not tonight’s primary function, instead his deconstructing of his own reasons for doing it in that familiar anxious but humorous and self-effacing fashion becomes the main crux.
There’s a surprising theme of redemption, of gaining perspective and ‘turning your life around’, during the show we find out that Mark has had a rough ride leading up to events, going through a divorce and experiencing feelings of emptiness, steering him towards the dubious world of self help books and memes in search of an answer.
The opportunity of doing this weird and potentially dangerous TV show affords him a chance to change the course of his recent life, if it all sounds a little heavy then that’s absolutely not the case, Mark’s modest, self-mocking personality keeps things afloat with lot’s of laughter but it is definitely cut with a touch of very real drama when the demands of finding your own food, water and shelter take quite a severe toll on him, both physically and mentally.
All in all a really satisfying evening in Mark’s company, the intimacy generated at the start of the show, the unintentional affiliations with the city and the Playhouse left myself and the audience feeling we had witnessed something a little out of the ordinary but also quite special.
Review By Crawford (Presenter on Radio Wymondham)