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The Boy with Tape on His Face

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Arriving in the West End clutching an Edinburgh Comedy Award and boasting a raft of raves, it's been a very good year indeed for The Boy With Tape on His Face - aka New Zealander Sam Wills.

The gaffer-taped goon is a thoroughly likeable performer who brings a welcome strand of silent clowning to a West End scene sorely lacking in comic variety.

The 75-minute show is something of a 'greatest hits' collection, and those who've caught The Boy's occasional TV appearances (including last year's Royal Variety) will be familiar with much of the material on show.

Staple guns, oven mitts, toy teeth and plungers are among the multitude of props used in all manner of unexpected ways. Each sketch lasts no more than a couple of minutes and most involve audience participation - by the end I felt in the minority having not been called into action.

Many sketches require deceptive levels of accuracy, and not all are guaranteed to work; there was an interesting moment last night when a trick involving a baby doll and a rizla paper (long story) quite literally failed to fly, but rather than cut his losses The Boy persisted to a point where it became quite uncomfortable.

This wasn't the only dud; a rather awkward sing-a-long to Enigma's "Return to Innocence" is hampered by poor sound levels while a potentially joyous evocation of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" goes nowhere.

Nevertheless, occasional slips aside this is a generally well-honed and well-intentioned evening of entertainment that is suitable for every age. And there are moments of utter brilliance - I never imagined that watching a man extend a tape measure could be quite so much fun.

I won't spoil the surprise of the climactic moment, but I will say that those with a balloon phobia should tread carefully (quite literally). And the rest of you, just beware the aisle seats...


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