One of the first shows that I penned in on my to see list was Peter Brush – Dreams with advert breaks (Banshee Cinema, 1310). I’ve long admired the sheer quality of his writing and the way I describe him to friends is if you like Yes Minister, then you’ll enjoy Brush. It looks as if he has a bit of a fan base, as when I arrived a lady and her son who had remembered seeing him perform in Eyam (the Plague village in the Peak District) were sadly having to leave as it was an over 18 venue only. This was a shame, as the youngster would have enjoyed this show and there was nothing overly graphic he couldn’t have heard.
The theme to the show is Brush’s memories of his youth and how some of these may have been dreams. To begin with he acknowledged how his appearance doesn’t scream comedy. This was as dry and self-deprecating as you could get, without ever getting close to being overdone. From this he went on to describe his memories/dreams, fleshing out the scenarios and taking them to their logical and very funny conclusions. There were a couple of contrived jokes, but these were gloriously contrived and he did well to acknowledge their nature. Brush broke the 4th wall often, discussing each joke and how it worked, even the thought behind it. Rather than stripping away any magic, this just seemed to make us all confederates in the mirth and the same can be said for when the audience had to use their brains to get the punchlines.
There were the odd lulls whilst Brush set up a joke, as some set ups involved almost a minute without anything expressly funny occurring, but no one found this to be a problem; I think we all trusted him to know his business and that the reveal would always be worth it and it was, too. The delivery was low energy and relaxed in pace, but this just enabled the strong writing to sell itself and anyone who can fit the words gravitas and baffled into a set deserves well of their audience. The actual spectators to this were incredibly well disposed towards Brush and it was nice to see a room full of people onboard and behind an act, with no walkouts, shuffling about or fidgeting.
Brush closed the show with a series of callbacks to his earlier references (none of which had been left hanging) and with a couple of Edinburgh special visual prop gags. This rounded everything up nicely and gave a feeling of completeness to the performance. This was a splendidly crafted show with a lot of laughs and is well worth seeing.