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altPhil Nichol plays the character of jazz-poet Bobby Spade in a recreation of the character’s 1974 performance that ended in catastrophe. Backed up by his band, Nichol swaps between gently-spoken poems and screamed songs, telling the story of a lonely man on a journey through the city.

The introduction to Crazytown is an amazing poem that Nichol delivers in a gravelly Tom Waits voice, while the bass plods along, supporting strings of imaginative and hilarious metaphors for a decaying city. Each poem focuses the attention to and from different inhabitants of the city like an unsettling urban version of Under Milk Wood, while our narrator occasionally inhales from a glue bag. Sometimes Nichol’s lyrical skill is so impressive, and his ideas so consistently clever that you find yourself grinning open-mouthed in appreciation, but not wanting to miss anything he says by laughing.

Aside from some of the songs in which Nichol plays guitar, most of the poems are read from sheets of paper, which is not surprising, considering he would have to memorise an hour of complex rhymes. Hesitations are infrequent though, and a small price to pay to see a comedian with such a superbly written show. 

With few or no posters around the city, ‘Welcome to Crazytown’ will build up by word of mouth, and I recommend buying a ticket now, before everybody hears about this hilarious poet and the show is fully booked.

The Stand, 4-30 Aug (not 16), times vary

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