Review: Chris Stokes: An Opera Written On Napkins – Pleasance Attic, Edinburgh.
“An opera written on napkins is still an opera”, so Chris Stokes is told by his grandmother. Unfortunately, though, this show has a “written on napkins” feel to it; intentionally unfinished, absolutely, but unsatisfying overall.
If you’re a fan of hesitant, anecdotal comedy delivered by a self conscious, vegan geek who looks like a very hungry Frank Spencer, then you’ll enjoy an hour with Stokes. But on more than one occasion during An Opera Written On Napkins, I wasn’t quite sure if this was entirely my cup of (soya milk) tea…
The lengthier set-pieces, like the routine on his grandfather and the Titanic, have so much potential, but the pay-off just doesn’t justify the set-up. In fact, a lot of his jokes and anecdotes would scrub up very nicely, minus a couple of minutes of filler.
Stokes approaches life as an outsider. In particular, he talks about how being a geek makes it impossible to ignore someone else’s mistakes: “I think you’ll find Superman is actually from Krypton”, he says to a group of youths who are beating him up outside a comic book convention.
It’s not the only polished routine in his repertoire; there’s also the section where he discusses the fact that he used to go to school with ex-Apprentice candidate Melody Hosseni; and routine where he discusses his veganism and the time his aggressive Uncle Keith mocked the fact he chose not to eat meat, eggs or cheese by suggesting he replace mayonnaise with unicorn tears.
Despite his awkward, geeky style, Stokes is entertaining and, most importantly, engaging. But while he’s capable of dominating the club scene with such original perspectives on life, he struggles here in Edinburgh to skillfully piece together such a mish-mash of routines.
Date of live review: Saturday 4th August 2012.