Review: Robert Temple @ Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre – Hypnosis, Hotdogs & Hilarity
On Saturday night a man asked me if I wanted to buy a hotdog. Nothing out of the ordinary there, you might think (stop sniggering at the back). However when you take in the fact that the hotdog in question was in fact a foam replica, its (male) seller claimed his name was “Susan”, and that I was in the presence of the UK’s favourite flame-haired comedy hypnotist Robert Temple, it suddenly doesn’t seem like such an ordinary night.
And it proved to be anything but, as myself and a capacity crowd at the Tyne Theatre were treated to a hilarious evening of hypnosis as Temple brought his brand-new show to the North East ahead of a nationwide tour later in the year.
Veterans of Temple’s excellent Freshers Week shows may have mourned the loss of some of his more outrageous sketches, with Saturday’s event a decidedly more family-friendly affair. But they needn’t have feared, as although the R-ratedness had been toned down, the hypnotist’s unique brand of cheekiness remained in full-flow.
As always during Temple’s shows, the brave volunteers from the audience played the real starring role, once the flamboyant showman brought them under his control in what is always a fun opening. However the volunteers themselves provided many of the highlights during a relatively tame (by Temple’s standards) first act, with one lady taking “sleep and relax” to a whole new level, while another narrowly avoided an unceremonious stage exit after donning perhaps the most unsuitable high heels anybody has ever been hypnotised in.
But the early exchanges proved just to be a warm-up, as the volunteers sank deeper under Temple’s spell with every sketch, and he started to really put them through their paces as the interval beckoned. To keep the audience amused during said interval Temple sent out his subjects among the stalls in various imagined guises: a lost Japanese tourist, Susan the aforementioned hotdog seller, a toilet attendee, the list goes on.
But it was when Rob Temple returned and recalled the volunteers back to the stage that the fun truly began. For the second act of his show flew by in a sequence of truly hilarious and creative sketches, each better than the last.
There was an excellent reimagining of classic TV show Blind Date, with an unlucky bachelorette having to choose between a washed-up rock star; a Japanese bloke (being played by a female volunteer), and a guy whose sole intention was not to win the date. Lucky girl.
But undoubtedly the finest moments came in the penultimate sketch, as he used various pieces of music as triggers. And soon enough, instead of a group of normal volunteers on stage we had three Beyonces, two Psys, a secret agent and Pavarotti himself belting out a rustic version of Nessun Dorma.
Temple went on to close the show with one of his classic and often-requested bits, with a “voodoo monkey” taking control of his subjects with side-splitting results.
He then woke them up and, in a nice touch, presented each one with two tickets to another of his shows (as a reward for volunteering, or compensation for being rather than watching the show I’m not quite sure). And given the rapturous reception Temple’s final bow received at the end of a spectacular night, I’ll be very surprised if even one of those tickets remains unclaimed.