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Alistair McGowan (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Although perhaps best known for his television show The Big Impression, Alistair McGowan is no stranger to the stage. Recent roles have included the West End production Little Shop of Horrors (2007) and playing Emcee in Cabaret (2008). After a ten year hiatus from solo stand-up, Alistair has come full circle and brings his multitude of voices to the Lowry.

The routine is a combination of traditional stand-up with the classic mimicry that made McGowan famous – his Eddie Izzard commentating on nature programmes is a particular highlight. The performance meanders through a number of subjects, from football through to television, celebrity, radio and back to football again. It begins with some rather outdated references to the Beckham scandal, perhaps in a nod to the more die-hard fans of his TV days. However, McGowan swiftly gets into his stride and moves onto more current material; the X-Factor versus Strictly debate rousing the audience even more intensely than their sporting allegiances. A rant about Royal Mail's 'while you were out we tried to deliver...' cards also hits the spot.

All of the impressions are strong, but it's the unexpected moments (such as an 'internal monologue' while watching a Shakespeare play) that are arguably the best. Some of McGowan's subjects are a little obscure, but the most well known;Terry Wogan, Steven Gerrard, Michael Parkinson for example, go down a storm. It's a challenge for one man and a mic to keep an audience engaged for a full two hours, but one that McGowan rises to through his energetic performance of '120 voices in 120 minutes'.

References to Morecambe and Wise, and 'teenagers nowadays', place the target audience squarely in the middle-aged bracket but aside from a few expletives this is a family friendly show that will have you chuckling, but not rolling, in the aisles.

-Poppy Helm


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