Rajiv Karia @ Pleasance Courtyard

Gallivant is a charming, deftly written hour from excellent new talent Rajiv Karia

Review by Laurie Presswood | 15 Aug 2022
  • Rajiv Karia

Rajiv Karia plays a dangerous game in Gallivant – providing such a rounded and endearing picture of himself, and delivering it with such gentle charm that there's a risk audience members will hang about Pleasance Courtyard afterwards in an attempt to continue a (so far imaginary) friendship. The characters in his set (of which he is one) are distilled simply and insightfully – one acquaintance is summed up as the sort of person who would rock up to a house party and treat the crowd to "the cello part from Wonderwall". This could mean the cellist's equivalent of Wonderwall (Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, Prelude), or it could literally be the string accompaniment to Wonderwall. Either way, we immediately recognise this man.

Karia’s other incredible strength is that he’s simply a great joke-writer. You come away from Gallivant hoping to see him land a sitcom writing gig – he has a handful of TV and radio writing credits to date but you can see him easily slotting into the writer’s room of a gag-driven hit like 30 Rock.

The show could benefit from breaking up the string of punchlines with a few more lengthy stories in order to add a bit of texture – the tale of him attending his cousin’s wedding in India, while already funny, would be a good starting point. Karia also seems to love a misdirect, and you might be tempted to critique the show for using the set-up too often if it wasn’t so darn delightful.

The show’s only real weak point is the ending sequence which, despite featuring a cracking prop reveal (spoiler!), doesn’t feel fully worked through yet. It sits somewhere between laughs and poignant self-reflection, not quite conveying either, and leaving the audience a little uncertain as to what reaction is expected of them. But as they leave Karia’s company that's not what will stay with audiences – it'll be the show's well-crafted jokes and affable delivery.

Rajiv Karia: Gallivant, Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), until 28 Aug (not 17), 4.25pm, £8-11