Rhys! Rhys! Rhys! is an aptly titled show – it’s all about Rhys Nicholson and they never let you forget it. The full room could have been empty and – as Rhys admits themselves – they would have still taken to the stage to perform the show about how it’s goddamn time that they received an award.
For the first 15 minutes, Nicholson regales us with life updates and the drama they’ve recently witnessed, including eavesdropping with their partner on a couple who was on one of their first dates. Nicholson peppers these tales with riffs about Edinburgh, starring the infamous cobblestones, the bin strike and the tightrope walkers at the Meadows. Then, Nicholson smoothly moves into the crux of their show, and we don’t even notice because we’re too busy laughing at every other line. The front row especially relished the show, making Nicholson state that they wished they could spread that energy throughout their run.
What’s particularly enjoyable is the drama that tinges everything Nicholson does on stage. Whether it’s their fantastic outfit, their sometimes-frantic walk, the delivery of a few jokes with their back turned to the audience and a cheeky glint in their eyes – Nicholson makes us lean in for more. This is only heightened with their refrain: ‘Let’s not talk about that’, before they do exactly the opposite, to everyone’s delight. Their energy is reminiscent of an excited child sitting on tales they know will bowl everyone over, and it’s positively infectious.
Performing stand-up for a living has been a childhood dream of Nicholson’s, and we can tell that through their electric presence on stage. With so many jokes delivered with their eyes shut, you can readily believe them when they say that they would have performed the same set to an empty room too. That’s clearly not been the case with the venue filled with audience members who appreciated the chance to say hello at the end of the show and to buy a snazzy Rhys Nicholson lapel pin too.
Someone give Nicholson an award already.