Garrett Millerick is a bit of a favourite with Bouquets & Brickbats. Last year, with The Dreams that Stuff is Made Of, he seemed to be in a very dark place indeed, delivering a set that pulsed with anger and derision. It’s a happier, healthier looking man who steps onto the tiny stage of the Tron, to deliver his latest creation, Sunflower, a title that also seems to suggest we’re in for a brighter experience, this time around. Sure enough, within moments of his very first utterance, the audience is howling with laughter.
Which is ironic when you consider that later on, the show incorporates a moment of such intense personal pain that, for a few moments, we’re literally shocked into stunned silence. The way Millerick expertly reels us back towards the laughs is a testament to his skills as a raconteur. Few comedians can manage to walk such a slippery tightrope quite so effortlessly.
As Millerick is quick to point out, the titles of Fringe shows are decided on long before August – and indeed, it had been his intention to bring something happier this time around. But life has a way of intervening in people’s best-laid plans and Millerick has done a great job of snatching triumph from the jaws of adversity. What he presents instead is a kind of meta-comedy, laying bare the show’s construction, and inviting us to consider the nature of humour.
This show mixes elements of humour and despair with great aplomb. It also features a certain Chesney Hawkes song to great effect. You want to know how? You’ll find the answer at the Tron.
It’s been another amazing August for us at Bouquets & Brickbats. We’re exhausted after a month of non-stop theatre and comedy! We have seen some absolutely fantastic stuff, covering a huge range of ideas. Here’s our pick of the best we’ve seen at this year’s Fringe:
Neontopia / Wales Millennium Centre – A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders
Aurora Nova – The Blind Date Project by Bojana Novakovic
Rainbow Class by Vivienne Acheampong
Gaggle Babble / National Theatre Wales – Wonderman by Daf James
Something for the Weekend – Royal Vauxhall by Desmond O’Connor
NJC Productions – The Way the City Ate the Stars by Will Greenway
George Dillon – Stunning the Punters (& Other Stories) by Berkoff, Sproat and Dostoevsky
Lorenzo Novani – Cracked Tiles by Lorenzo Novani
Impi Theatre Company – The South Afreakins by Robyn Paterson
Garrett Millerick is a welcome breath of foetid air. This is not a show about a nice chap who’s a bit rubbish at relationships, nor a rueful but essentially chipper trip down memory lane. No, this is a searing, blistering, visceral howl of a show, railing against a world where everything – except for Amazon Prime Now – is shit.
We’re a small audience, which helps propel the show’s narrative of failure (this really wouldn’t work in a bigger, fuller space), and the stories Millerick tells are a curious mix of the extraordinary and the mundane. This makes them utterly compelling. TGI Fridays and documentaries about ballroom don’t usually share space in a single anecdote, for example.
His anger is palpable – if manufactured, it’s expertly done. We laugh. A lot. He’s really very good. This is definitely one of the best stand-up acts we’ve seen this year.
It’s the last few days of the Fringe and many acts are understandably beginning to feel a little bit jaded, but clearly, the affliction has completely bypassed Garrett Millerick. He stalks out onto the stage and launches himself headlong into a vitriolic set which is fuelled mostly by anger. Millerick is a grumpy sort. He seems to have a beef with just about everything and everyone, from the people who leave one star reviews on Amazon (for batteries!) to the supermarkets who have the cheek to charge five pence for a plastic bag. He even offers a routine about why Page Three is the least offensive thing in The Sun; you don’t necessarily agree with what he says, but you have to applaud the skill with which he puts his arguments together.
He is a confident performer, his voice ranging from a sly, conspiratorial hush to a ranting bellow and he soon has the early evening audience in the palm of his hand, eliciting plenty of well-earned laughter and let’s face it, that’s the name of the game here. He even apologises for not actually mentioning taxi drivers in the set and tells us about a guy who came up to him after a show and complained that the poster promised something that wasn’t delivered. ‘Are you a taxi driver?’ Millerick asked him. ‘No,’ replied the guy. ‘But I’m interested in taxis.’
We have no complaints about this assured set, which delivers on so many levels – it’s frank, visceral and occasionally controversial – but I’m not sure whether to tweet him a link to this review. After all, another of his pet hates is people who voice their opinions. What do you think? Should I?