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Rhod Gilbert And The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst
Published on Monday, 17 August 2009

Rhod Gilbert, the official Voice of Wales, returns to the Fringe to follow up his 2008 Edinburgh Comedy Award nominated show, The Award Winning Mince Pie. "Follow up" maybe isn’t right – the narrative follows on directly from a Mince Pie tour date in Canterbury to a therapist's couch in Kent. It's all by way of explaining why, exactly, he decided to call this show The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst.

In fact, the scene-setting discussion of Mince Pie in the early part of Gilbert’s act made me freshly aggrieved I’d somehow contrived to miss him last year. I did catch Who’s Eaten Gilbert's Grape? in 2007, and the angry ranting Welshman is much as I remember, but written even larger: his anger is even angrier, his barbs even barbier... and his venue even venueier. Pleasance One is close to the largest stage the Pleasance chain has to offer, and as soon as Gilbert ambles on it’s clear he belongs there.

“It’s been another bad year,” he says (“five years on the bounce now”), and you soon learn why: in short order, he’s fallen out with his parents, been kicked out by his flatmate, lost his girlfriend, angered his agent and been sent to therapy (via Fruit Towers, home of Innocent Smoothies), all because of the title of this show. He also has a go at the papers for what they’ve written about him, vicariously through an extended rant at Daily Telegraph readers in the audience - which the majority non-Telegraph crowd loved.

This seems to be a favourite device of Gilbert’s. In Who’s Eaten Gilberts Grape?, he complained that the reviewers called him ‘almost too inventive’ - proceeding to gripe about his failing life in minute and poignant detail for an hour... before concluding with the delicious reveal that the whole lot of it – every word – was made up. It made his 2007 show one of my top Fringe experiences of recent years. This time, the papers complain he goes off about things which are ‘trivial’ - and, as funny as he can make battles with the washing machine and the difficulties of purchasing a hoover, it's true that they don’t rise above that label.

I’m sure artists of all stripes like to think their best work is ahead of them rather than behind, so the fact I didn't recapture that feeling may be more my problem than Gilbert’s. He is genuinely one of the top stand-up acts you will see at Edinburgh, and The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst (it makes sense by the end, honest) may be one of the last chances to see him before he actually goes stellar... as if the heady heights of adverts for the Welsh Tourist Board wasn’t stardom enough.

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