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Simon Slack: The Fantasist, 8th November 2016 at Soho Theatre

| Comedy, Theatre | 08/11/2016


Tonight, actor and comedian Robert Cawsey brings his first full-length solo show – Simon Slack: The Fantasist – to London’s Soho Theatre.  

Ahead of the performance – involving a heady mix of physical comedy, crazy dancing and puppetry – Cawsey chatted to What’s On London about his ‘absurd one-man sketch production in which imagination and reality collide’.

“What’s my show about?” asks Robert Cawsey.  “It’s essentially a half comedy, half theatre show about a guy in his bedroom whose fantasies take over and get the better of him.”  That blend seems natural, given Cawsey’s journey to this point.  After training as a “proper actor” at Guildhall, he took the unusual step of joining Ecole Phillipe Gaulier in Paris to study clowning.  “I just felt like there was something else I needed to explore,” Cawsey says.  “So I went to Gaulier for a summer, and it was certainly something else … and more.”

After that, he moved firmly into comedy, performing as half of the successful double act ‘Guilt & Shame’ with Gabriel Bisset-Smith.  Now, somewhat bravely, Cawsey’s decided to chance his arm by going alone and he admits it’s a full-on experience: “You can’t blame anyone else.  Doing an hour with someone else, you get time to chill every now and again.  But with this, it’s non-stop.”

rob-cawsey-as-simon-slack-2-1Cawsey has taken certain precautions by enlisting the talented Vicky Jones as director and writing about what he knows.  “Simon Slack is me,” he admits. “Unfortunately.”

“It’s based on me, anyway – but it evolved into a much more exaggerated version for comic effect.  Please remember the ‘exaggerated’ bit when you see the show.”

As for working with Jones – fresh from directing BBC Three’s smash hit, Fleabag – he says: “It was very special as I came from a comedy place and she was more drama.  I think we managed to fuse them together really well.  She helped me discover what it was all really about.  She also brought Pizza Express vouchers to the process.”

Apart from those precautions, Cawsey’s eschewed every other safety net, opting for an unusual and sometimes absurd style that fuses acting, slapstick and puppetry.  “It’s alternative,” he admits, “but in a way I think we can all relate to.  We all lie on our beds imagining and daydreaming … right?  Well, amongst other things.”

In Slack’s case, daydreaming forms an attic recluse’s escape from the pressures and expectations of adulthood as – together with his puppet, best friend and alter ego – he retreats into a fantasy world of his own creation, involving – amongst other things – ‘a wank ballet’.  Audiences clearly need to head along with an open mind.

“It’s always interesting to see how different people react,” he says.  “I always think: ‘Oh, God, this isn’t gonna be for these guys’ and yet they’re always the audiences that surprise me.  They’re often the biggest laughers.  And people’s appetite for more alternate comedy has grown over the last few years.”

Why does Cawsey think that is?  “Well, maybe we’re all looking for bolder and more alternative ways to escape and be entertained.  Or maybe everyone’s just going mad.”

Robert Cawsey’s performing ‘Simon Slack: The Fantasist’ at Soho Theatre tonight at 8.30pm.  For tickets, head here, and for more information on Robert’s upcoming projects – including TV performances – follow him on Twitter @robertcawsey.  

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