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Pedestrian (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Stepping out of character to take his bow at the end of the performance, Tom Wainwright looks an unassuming, modest sort of chap, shy even, and almost embarrassed at the applause.
But for the preceding hour or so he’s been having a terrible time. Pursued by a giant fish that sports a top hat and monocle, our hero tells of a series of adventures that force the watchers to seriously question his sanity.

Pedestrian apparently started as a 15-minute skit by this Bristol-based actor, in collaboration with visual and sound artist Simon (no relation) Wainwright and with the addition of various other collaborators it has grown to four times that length. It’s certainly an original piece of work.

In a navy polo shirt and baggy jeans that constantly threaten to end up around his ankles, Wainwright stands in front of a back projection screen that throws up images as diverse as the cosmos and a Woolworths logo. On a stand to one side is a live goldfish that has the same images projected on the back of its bowl.

Beginning in an endless shopping mall, pursued by that giant fish - not the one in the bowl - our Tom proceeds to a series of oddball encounters, starting with some extremely pushy fund raisers and ending up somewhere around the gates of heaven via the woman of his dreams.

He’s a gifted performer, delivering his avalanche of words and characters without missing a beat. His own persona – little man lost and bewildered in a confusing world of consumerism – is appealing and there’s quite a bit of mime to voices on the clever soundtrack that adds another dimension.

It is a very personal piece, personal to the creators that is, and several of the flights of fantasy clearly didn’t take all of last night’s audience along with them. It’s probably been expanded just that little bit too much but the likeability of the performer isn’t in question.

- Alan Hulme


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