One Man Breaking Bad

one-man-breaking-bad_2014ONEMANB_YB

06/08/2014

Famous Spiegeltent, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh

The  massive queue outside the Famous Spiegeltent speaks volumes about this show. American performer Miles Allen has really hit the zeitgeist with One Man Breaking Bad. There’s also an irresistible story behind the production that sounds like a PR man’s wet dream. (Perhaps it is). Allen was homeless on the streets of LA, when somebody filmed him imitating characters from the iconic TV series. The film promptly got a million hits on Youtube and overnight, Allen had a  career. He went on to be the runaway hit of the Melbourne comedy festival and… ah, you can guess the rest.

As massive Breaking Bad fans we were bound to want to see this. But in the cavernous surroundings of the Spiegeltent, it all felt rather so-so. Allen is undoubtedly a talented impressionist (he nails the character voices with ease) and his attempt to encapsulate the entire series in 60 minutes seems an intriguing proposition. But sadly, the rather flat script, peppered with ‘topical’ references (Braveheart anybody? Only Fools and Horses?) failed to connect with an audience that had arrived seeking a good time and were met with exactly what it said on the can. A synopsis of the series. A malfunctioning microphone for a large section of the proceedings didn’t help matters and the only parts that took off were the bits where Allen deviated from the core story to add another dimension. (A sequence with a singing glove puppet was by far the best bit). This would have worked better in a smaller venue where Allen could have really connected with his audience, but this was a major disappointment. Shame.

1.8 stars

Philip Caveney

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3 comments

  1. Yes it’s a shame! I’m the producer and yours is our first review. Fair enough too. Aside from tonight, I can only assure you, EVERY other night has gone down a storm (check Twitter, because until tonight it’s been nothing but glorious tweetage night after night), with the same ‘flat’ script. Yes tonight it may have seemed flat (you can only review what you saw so this ain’t a standard angry or denying retort) but so would Othello if the actors were enduring what Miles Allen (and you) had to endure tonight. His mind was split throughout the entire show, into whether he should stop the show (mortal sin) or plough through (as was the sound team’s mind/s too… apparently).
    Miles is currently totally despondent, as am I (am paying top dollar for what’s supposed to be an awesome crew & equipment), but, PR person’s wet dream or not, this show is getting 300 a night because when it’s not burdened by a major technical snafu which took the majority of the hour (flinch) to fix, it’s a great show which is getting huge laughs at every turn. Tonight we (or somebody, something) took a wrong turn.
    We can live with a bad show if it’s just the script getting no response, or just the actor’s performance, but the tech issues were more at the core of what you saw than it’s possible to explain. Apologies to you. It IS a shame. Fuuuuuck! 😦

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  2. PS: I might also say that in their frantic & prolonged endeavours to fix the mic sound, the tech crew (usually superb and problem free) were severely distracted and missed hitting a series of other cues (images on the screen, music, props etcetera), all of which our One Man Breaking Bad tried valiantly to overcome.
    Regards a smaller, less sunlit venue being more suited, from August 13-24, the show transfers to The Stand 3.

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  3. Hey, Matthew, thanks for taking the trouble to comment. It’s clear the show is a massive success and everyone has a bad night now and then. I perhaps hadn’t appreciated how bad the tech problems were on the night we visited. However, I really do think the material will be better suited to a more intimate venue. We wish you a smoother ride for the rest of your run.
    Philip and Susan.

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