There’s a nonchalance to Luke McQueen that makes it hard to know how to take him. This could be his best gig of the run, or it could be the worst. That bit could be working, or maybe it’s not. That guy in the front row who needed little prompting to get on stage could be a plant – he’s certainly onto McQueen’s wavelength suspiciously quickly – or he could genuinely be spoiling things by being too on-the-ball and responsive. At the end of the hour, it’s been an enjoyable ride, but we’re none the wiser as to whether this show reached the intended destination. Maybe the show’s still going on as we file out. Is this part of it? Or has he finished now?
Not that it matters. McQueen’s brand of fling-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks invention needs nothing beyond itself. He kicks things off with the garish graphics of an oddball gameshow, which sees his willing victim mildly humiliate themselves in ways we don’t see coming. In fact, you don’t see a lot of things coming. He’s wearing an 80s pastel dress and badly-applied makeup. He’s collapsing empty chairs in the room. All initially with no explanation. Only there’s always a explanation and it’s always worth waiting for.
There is something approaching a thread to the show. In fact, three to be precise. The first is McQueen’s mock-naive encounter with a webcam girl, who turns McQueen’s mundane, innocent questions into flirtation. The second is his mother’s relationship with a Thai groom twelve years younger than him. The third is his failed attempt to sustain a viable acting career. They’re listed here in descending order of effectiveness. Webcam girl proves fruitful. McQueen keeps returning to her for more crossed wires correspondence or another sexy/sad video. The Thai groom is a good concept McQueen gets the mileage out of. Only the acting career strand feels limp, descending into McQueen making stupid noises at his willing victim.
Possibly, these three all fit together at the end into something about love – whether it’s better to be with someone who doesn’t love you than to be alone – but the nonchalance undoes it all. It’s disarming and endearing, but something of a double-edged sword when it comes to drawing everything together.