by Meredith Jones Russell
Structured around the story of his attempts to buy his 84-year-old father a posh new watch as a birthday present, Neil Delamere: End of Watch is a well-observed and warmly funny hour of razor-sharp comedy.
Tangents there are a-plenty; Delamere peels off onto completely different tracks for ruminations on the charms of Irish pubs, the terror of Turkish ear hair singeing, and the perils of getting your car stuck on a beach, to name just a few. He also makes plenty of time for audience interaction – beware of sitting too close to the backstage area before the show starts; his ears are everywhere – but the threat levels are low; he will undoubtedly take the piss, but there’s no cruelty or ritual humiliation here, it’s all just good craic.
These diversions give the show a casual, slightly rambling feel, but it is far from it. Every digression is incredibly well planned, always leading seamlessly back to the central story, and the final comic payoff at the end is absolutely worth the wait. He’s just as good at off-the-cuff banter with the audience, but it is the precisely plotted main content of the piece that is most impressive. The show is tight, exact and meticulously structured, but Delamere’s skill lies in making it seem anything but.
Neil Delamere: End of Watch runs through 25 August in Edinburgh.
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