Matt Rees @ Pleasance Courtyard

Onstage strengths and off stage recovery meet in Matt Rees' debut hour

Review by Ben Venables | 03 Aug 2018
  • Matt Rees

In his early twenties Matt Rees was winning all the new act comedy competitions – including the respected Comedian of the Year award at the 2012 Leicester Comedy Festival. Now in his later twenties he brings Happy Hour to Pleasance Courtyard, a debut hour which is perhaps a little belated by heavy drinking; drinking which seems to have started, or fit in rather too snugly, with the comedic lifestyle. 

Rees' phlegmatic, hangdog delivery belies a phenomenally high gag rate. And as he draws each of his routines to a close with a swerve of deft wordplay there is a surprising feeling of the pacey rhythm more familiar in a one-liner show. He has an eye for the bizarre and for darkness. Rees can tell a story, or create a world in a sentence, such as when turning a train station into a bar. If he's casting himself as being of unusual interest to dogs or a jaded Poundland employee it all folds well into his act. He mines a good deal out of embarrassment, of cringe, of finding a sex manual belonging to his parents. 

However, his stronger and honed material zig-zags a little with his more recent experiences dealing with sobriety, which he – understandably and relatably – hasn't quite welded into the parts of the show he's naturally more familiar with performing. At least on this opening night preview, Rees hadn't quite found a way of smoothing out his onstage strengths with his off stage difficulties. When he does, and we hear more about an alcoholic who never had a 'rock bottom', who had a 'mundane' relapse and why certain incidents make him feel ashamed, it'll be from a comedian with his own story to tell about being sober, about alcoholism and recovery in its many forms. 

Matt Rees: Happy Hour, Pleasance Courtyard (The Cellar), until 26 Aug (not 13), 4.45pm, £6-10

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