When The Wee Review first visited Mark Silcox’s show No Woman, Plenty of Cry at the beginning of the Fringe, it quickly dissolved into what he now refers to as an “informal chat” and what we called “an opportunity to sit and chat with a timid, middle-aged Asian fella about how unfair life is.” Life is unfair, but reviewers try not to be, so on this penultimate day of the Fringe, we return to give him a second opinion.
This time there’s prepared material, the same kind offer of tea and coffee, a sly comment to the audience that “Mr Peacock called me a lost soul” (reviewers: never go back to the scene of a bad review, your ears will burn) and a full, hour-long show. In short, it is transformed. It is reviewable.
Two incredibly funny things happen during this show. Firstly, he makes the audience a cuppa. That much was expected. But what makes it funny is that he announces he has taken on board Chortle’s review that says this is a low point in the show (although Chortle doesn’t stop there), so to spice up the interlude, he now plays some Shaggy. Thus, we are treated to the sight of our host casually making a round of tea to the strains of It Wasn’t Me. Something about this Silcox-Shaggy juxtaposition is hilarious.
The second is presumably unplanned. A rumble at the back of the cavernous Mash House room suggests either very drunken latecomers, or fisticuffs in the bar area. It’s neither. A parade of about a dozen young performers run down the side aisle and onto the stage. One points at Silcox, shouts “that’s my Dad!” and then each in turn hugs him and runs back down the opposite aisle and out again. Silcox just smiles beatifically. It seems Silcox’s gigs are determined to be inexplicable.
As for the prepared material, it’s also very funny in places, perhaps not always intentionally so. He reads us three rather long, unpoetic poems, more like very slow runaway trains of amusing thought than gag-filled blockbusters. The first concerns a professional badminton player, the second the trials of becoming a taxi driver, the third the imagined inner world of a goldfish at a Chinese takeaway. The last contains some possibly visionary thinking, posing the question: what does a goldfish think when other fish are getting chopped up and cooked? Does it look on in horror? Or does it in fact have a longer memory than we think? Maybe it remembers that its brothers and sisters were eaten by other fish and actual revels in its predators being slaughtered? Someone could definitely have a field day with that topic. Here though, it does get somewhat lost in Silcox’s delivery.
Seeing Silcox is still likely to leave you baffled, but given the rate of development of his show over these three weeks, he’s a shoo-in for next year’s Foster’s Comedy Award. And he makes a lovely cuppa.