Ventriloquism has come a long way since the halcyon days of Ray Alan and Lord Charles, Roger De Courcey and Nookie Bear and even the mighty Keith Harris and Orville. In fact, it has come so far that, in his current show, Paul Zerdin allows his pensioner puppet Albert to take to the stage alone to begin the show.
Riding a small electric mobility scooter, Albert makes his way, unaided, to the very centre of the stage before starting the show with a song – a mixture of Country and Rap (yes – you can work that one out for yourself) – and then promptly driving off stage, only to discover that his brakes don’t work.
After the, somewhat unorthodox, technically impressive and extremely funny opening to the show, Zerdin finally appears on stage with Baby, a newborn but extremely precocious child. Showcasing the skills that made him the first winner of TV’s The Big, Big Talent Show with Jonathan Ross, and a three times Royal Variety Performance act, he soon has the entire audience in the palm of his hand.
The second half of Act One is given over to the supporting act, The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. If I tried all day I could never do justice, in words, what they do with words, so the best I can advise is to do a quick search on the internet to see videos of their wonderfully clever, totally unique and absolutely hilarious routine.
The second half opens with another solo puppet appearance, this time from Alasdair Rimmer, game show host and voice over specialist (well, he would be if X-Factor’s Peter Dickson didn’t take all his work). He spends a few minutes chatting to the audience and showing that he is still basking in the glory of such television masterpieces as Pick My Nose, Float or Sink and Alasdair Rimmer’s Cock or Ball
Zerdin then reappears with probably his most famous puppet, Sam. Their routine is slick, perfectly timed and incredibly funny and proves, only too well, why he is regarded as one of the country’s top ventriloquists. His take on the classic “Bottle of Beer” sketch was superb and, hard as I tried, even from the front row I couldn’t see his lips move.
Audience participation is the name of the game for the next routine which sees a couple from the audience, wearing remote controlled moving mouthpieces over the lower part of their faces, falling victim to the Zerdin’s wickedly funny sense of humour. Both enter fully into the spirit of the sketch and, although they have no idea or control over what he might say, they join in wholeheartedly.
A rapturous reception from the Worthing audience prompts Zerdin and Sam to return and finish with a routine lifted straight from their many pantomime performances. Although not new, it proves to be just as skilful and funny as the rest of this incredibly entertaining show.