‘My Laughable Love Life’ is a cabaret that explores the relationship misfortunes of a hopeless Joe in the style of a one-man rom-com. John Nelder comically explores where it all went wrong in his past relationships, and his unrequited and unwavering adoration for Miss County USA.
Nelder has fantastic physicality and characterisation onstage, and plays the “awkward guy” so, so well. The cabaret feels more like a stand up comedy piece, with a series skits and sketches and a few songs dispersed throughout. Some of the transitions seemed rather clunky, and the storyline at times felt rather disjointed, it needed a little more flow perhaps to link it all together.
The male character is recognisable and relatable, and the audience immediately connects with Nelder. His character is awkward, vulnerable, nervous yet quirky and unpredictable. The loveable larrikin, who just needs some help when it comes to the ladies. The show incorporates the use of many sound effects and sound scapes that effectively help transport us to different times and places. The sound scapes enable Nelder to act out and recreate moments as his character remembers them.
Many of the scenarios that are re-enacted onstage are so familiar to the audience, and therefore funnier because we have experienced moments like these ourselves. The awkward first date, climbing over fellow passengers on a plane, struggling to stow your hand luggage – these universal moments allow us to connect, and in turn laugh at the absurdity of the situation. At one point Nelder acts out speed dating as if he is a racehorse commentator – and the whole audience erupted in fits of laughter. He really knows his situational comedy.
All of the songs were originals, with catchy melodies and witty lyrics. However, the songs did often feel rather long, with perhaps too many repeats of the chorus. Nelder has a lovely warm tone to his voice, which is pleasing to listen to.
The material still needs a little polishing, and lighting and sound cues need a little tightening. Nelder was experiencing a few opening night nerves, which is expected when performing a new solo work. Dialogue felt a little rushed and he couldn’t quite seem to catch his breath – not surprising, as there is a crazy amount of intense physicality required for the show. Hopefully as the season continues Nelder can ease into the work and feel more comfortable onstage.
Overall a fun show, with many hysterical moments. ‘My Laughable Love Life’ is playing at the Butterfly Club and closes on Sunday 20th September.