Colin Hoult: Inferno - Still as dark as ever, Colin Hoult has this year moved from focussing on more macabre characters to ‘heroes’, mostly human ones but all inevitably flawed and retaining his signature strangeness.
We walk in meeting Eddie Cartesian and learn of his exclusive love of just one song, meet Thwor and his mighty hammer, understand Glin Caution is frustrated with his ‘pervert’ neighbour Preston Pearce, get introduced to Little J Parker from Nottingham's Crime Fighting Union and several more strange folk. There is a peculiar symmetry as the show almost rewinds through the characters towards a confounding sing-and-dance-along with the audience.
Hoult's work is funny and entertaining, yet manages to be more theatre than comedy at times. If you are looking for conventional humour, then you need to know punchlines don't live in the world Hoult inhabits. There are moments sprinkled throughout the show where you wonder where the humour is going to coming from, only to find an empty void of despair There are also perplexing prop choices including a huge tree taking up a large amount of centre stage, which seems to serve the minimal purpose of a microphone stand, yet maintains a constant visual dominance.
Hoult employs a noticeable motif of muted music coming from another building, reinforcing the idea of his characters living off-stage from the rest of the world. Music plays a key role in many scenes; within the space of a couple of minutes we have gone from chilled-out electro music, to a whispered repetitive chant and to a club anthem without the transitions feeling out of place. The most memorable moments include an adorable dog playing fetch the banana with the several audience members and a visit for buttered tea with a senile old man ‘Billy’ - including a scene-stealing performance by Dan Snelgrove as he battles against the restrictions of Pleasance Two.
Hoult has an impressive range of discrete characters and performs them all extremely well, perfectly complimented by Snelgrove and Zoe Gardner, making Inferno a well crafted and delightfully delivered hybrid of comedy, theatre and darkness.