David Hoyle’s cabaret alternative to Valentines Day takes a look at our desire to be happy in a conventional way; 2.4 children, a house full of possessions and how we present ourselves to the outside world, regardless of how we feel inside.  

Hoyle introduces the show and states his purpose for the evening and then on comes the first of the supports, Joey Hateley. Joey is billed as a Gender Terrorist who badly sings along to a couple of tracks such as Eminem and changes some of the lyrics to shock the audience and encourage them to challenge gender stereotypes.

The stand out performance of the evening is by far and away the poet and spoken word artist, Regie Cabico whose lyricism and witty poetry finally gets the show off the ground and proves itself to charming, funny and very intelligent,.  The audience immediately warms to him and appreciate his work.  

We then see the return of Hoyle, the star of this evening’s show who proves himself to be very dry and sarcastic with quick wit and a very good sense of humour. Challenging the consumerism of our times and our desire to be conformists to a perfect social model; losing our individual selves in pursuit of an artificial happiness.  Hoyle mixes performance art with some impromptu singing and some goods audience interaction.

However as the show progresses, it becomes an insight into Hoyle’s narrow-minded view of society – something he was initially preaching against. The content ramblings down irrelevant, ignorant tangents are pointless and ill-conceived and include Council policy on housing Somalians, the relevance of Islam, and constant referencing the differences in the avant-garde theatre scene between London and Manchester. 

Hoyle states what ‘he is allowed to get away with’ in London theatres and how much more uptight the avant-garde scene in Manchester is. Hoyle although Northern appears to have had his head turned by living and working in London and seems to almost resent his appearance on the Contact’s stage which overshadows the evening and is insulting to the audience.

Hoyle paints a depressing, lonely, bitter figure; self-obsessed and quite unlikeable.  Although there are clearly fans and friends in the audience, it often feels like you have walked into a private party with several friends of the host taking to the stage at various points.

What starts as a promising entertaining evening dwindles into a tired, poorly planned and badly executed monologue that is too long and without purpose, a fact highlighted by the number of audience members leaving early.

- Ruth Lovett