Review: Alfie Brown- Imagination at The Monkey Barrel

Alfie Brown holds the audience in the palm of his hand, starting conversations with as many of them as he can; all backchat greeted with amiable banter. He has that chameleon comedian’s trick of appealing to all in the room, explained explicitly by Alfie as a manifestation of his deep insecurity and need to be loved.

The show is called Imagination, the word emblazoned on a hand-stitched tapestry that his girlfriend’s mother made. This is a broad enough title to encapsulate almost anything, but the overall theme of the show seems to bunch loosely around crowds: the dynamics of groupthink, the inevitability of ingroups and outgroups, his hopes to distil his audience for next year into the least cultish possible. In these parts, there are flashes of the ‘angry young man’ that made his name in earlier years. Unsurprisingly for someone with two small children, he also darts in and out of stories of his family, with a touching bit about rotting wood and love. 

Predominantly though, the routine is by the by, and what is most engaging about the set is his interaction with the crowd assembled in this small room. It’s hard to tell how much of the routine is seen, as we get lost in amusing diversions. This is in no way a criticism, rather it attests to his ability to control the flow of the show before reassuringly ending on a callback, followed by ‘that’s obviously the end’. Alfie is clever and funny and mellowed enough that it’s a pleasure to spend time in his company: and have faith that we’ll end up where we’re supposed to.

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