The Quay Arts welcomed the final of its trio of illustrious seasonal stand-ups, as former Perrier Award recipient, Sean Hughes, took his turn in the Anthony Minghella theatre, wrapping up his three month Penguins UK tour in front of a near-capacity crowd.
An unregrettable entrance
Opening with a puppet show to the unlikely strains of Edith Piaf’s, ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’, Hughes appeared from behind a curtain dressed in a fetching black dress that accentuated every curve and ensured early chuckles.
The Anglo-Irish comic then proceeded to pass on his observations of local media, picking up a copy of the Isle of Wight County Press (‘72 pages of sh*t’) drawing attention to a host of inane features within that week’s edition.
The front row of the gathering were, predictably, involved at regular intervals, giving the well drilled show additional elements of spontaneity and introducing an array of unlikely characters to the fray.
One of those, Alice, was the most regularly sought out for being the youngest person in the room, as Hughes sought to illustrate the proverbial partition between people under and over the age of 29.
Flashbacks to an earlier time
In amongst the humour and “riffing” there were a handful of poignant poems and flashbacks to the funny man’s past via a black light box, the latter of which ranged from a teacher’s low expectations, to a pizza order!
A compelling tale of childhood was illustrated with the aid of a host of small coats and other attire, a novel approach that added a visual tweak to the usual stand-up fare.
Pause the Internet
Ideas for a double A-side charity single and stopping the Internet for one hour to create a Utopian society hit their mark and the show was bookended with a second burst of Piaf to a raucous reception.
With few vacant seats and a show encompassing several of the arts, Sean Hughes’ Penguins was a masterstroke of booking by the Quay’s bigwigs. If he doesn’t return for the Isle’s culture, he might at least come back to scour the local rag for future material.
Overall: Fast paced and funny throughout
Image: © Sean Hughes