Review: Lee Evans

Review. Lee Evans. Grand Theatre Lancaster

WHAT must have been the loudest standing ovation received at the Grand Theatre signalled the end of a triumphant show by comic Lee Evans.

The first of two sell-out shows at the Grand, prior to a huge arena tour, was something of a coup for the theatre and one which will be talked about for years to come for those lucky enough to be there.

The black curtained stage set was simple, with only a mic stand and a magician's table for props and when Lee Evans bounded on stage, I didn't know what to expect.

My first visual impression of him was that he possessed the same zany posturing as Norman Wisdom.

Clutching a wad of A4 sheets containing his set of jokes for the show (what I assume to be all new material) he quickly got into his stride, moving effortlessly from one gag to the next.

There was no theme to the set, just observations on life. These were made all the more funny because the audience can relate to their own experiences such as finding a spider in the bath to how easy it is to put a coat on by yourself, but as soon as someone helps you, you can't get your arm in the sleeve.

The range of jokes changed from themes such as driving, getting stuck behind farmers on country roads, sex chat lines, pulling a face to try and look like your passport photo when going through immigration, the powder on travel sweets to the comical observations that will all make in places such as the supermarket checkouts, whilst all the time his wonderful collection of rubbery faced expressions re-enforced the hilarious tales.

Anything from facial impressions of a staring squirrel to the sound of a zip opening on a suitcase were combined with his boundless energy across the stage.

The relatively small stage of the Grand, possibly limited his comic visuals from what he must get up to at the larger arena gigs.

Still, the lively crowd in the intimate surroundings of the Grand proved a very receptive audience to test out the new material, with the odd less well-received gags probably destined for the shredder, but the vast bulk of the work easily filled the auditorium with laughter.

And he certainly gave value for money with his split set lasting around two and a half hours. He was supposed to be off stage by 10.10pm, but actually finished at a quarter past 11.

The sweat still poured from him as he came back from an encore to do a brilliant mime to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, at times bringing Charlie Chaplin and even Stan Laurel to mind.

The audience rose to their feet at the end and gave the comic a pop star's send off, which he seemed genuinely to appreciate.

Prior to this show I didn't know much about Lee Evans, but by the end of it I was a new convert.