Wednesday, May 17, 2023


REVIEW   Theatre Royal: Neil Delamere


I LIKE Neil Delamere’s work. He’s clever, street-smart and on the button with contemporary issues. And he’s not afraid to land punches.

I love his ability to improvise. Real improvisation is built on word association and his narratives link through quite a complex mesh of off-the-wall and zany thoughts that are all linked by the previous word and idea. It’s not easy and it’s a dangerous gambit for a comic that’s not secure. It never fails with Delamere.

Part of Neil Delamere’s routine involves building a rapport with the audience and he tries very hard to establish this with the patrons in the front row. ‘What’s your name/where do you come from/what do you work at?’ are all questions to lead on with. His improvised comic asides warmed the audience to him – although at the expense of those in the firing line. Still if you sit in the front row, expect the bullets to be heading in your direction.


‘The key to Delamere’s success is that he has that likeability factor’


Like poor Eugene who is all of 18 years old and here with his parents. It’s cringe time for the trio as Delamere ponders all kinds of bedroom shenanigans performed by Eugene’s parents that any American Olympic gymnast would be proud of. His warning to watch out in case Enoch Burke is under the bed brings the house down.

It’s the work routine that reels them in. There’s Ann who works in childcare, Paul who works on an estate, Mikey from Wexford who owns the estate, Paul who sells solar panels and Stephen who is a problem manager, Mike the farmer and Dave who is an IBM manager. Incredibly, Delamere manages to link all of these people in the front rows into characters in his improvisational drama of “what if”. If there’s a foreign national here, he’s away in a hack. Sadly, tonight, the nearest he can find is a voice from South Kilkenny.

Well, of course, Danny Healy Rae gets a mention and Delamere does the whole Healy-Rae routine and accent as he ponders the problem of trying to explain Danny to a foreigner. Neil loves Danny’s notion of a couple of pints doing no harm whatever to the old driving routine and then goes down an alley full of drink-driving possibility that culminates in a proposal to introduce drink-driving licences that would be specific to Kilgarvan. Maith thú Danny.

On the other hand, Danny might have a  Kilgarvan answer to the problem of the heroin islands along the Liffey boardwalks. A Cork heckler, whose wife is from Kerry, throws up a comment that there are no bad roads in Kerry and, boy, does he suffer. “Ah she made you do it,” says Neil along with “u till him dat dere’s neoooo such of a thhhingggg as a bad Kerry road”. That’s the great thing about Delamere; you’re never sure where he’s going with his material as his script is so reflexive and he has so many tangential issues.

The key to Delamere’s success is that he has that likeability factor – and the ability to laugh at himself. This is essential for any comic. Although I was glad that I was sitting at the back, he was generous to those who contributed and managed to involve/humiliate/enjoy and acknowledge them in equal measure. His brain works at light-speed and his gags came so fast that I found myself laughing at some and sometimes missing the gags that followed.

Neil Delamere was a good night out for the packed audience – apart from the victims in the front row.

By Pat McEvoy, Arts Correspondent
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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