Mark Watson: I’m Not Here (Work In Progress) - Review

January 13, 2016 | Norwich Playhouse, Norwich

Starting the show by nervously staggering on with a glass of wine that within seconds he doesn’t know what to do with as there’s no table to put it on and he doesn’t want to put it on the floor, Mark Watson is anxiety given human form. Initially coming across to anyone who hasn’t seen him before as a ramshackle, rambling idiot (albeit a charming, delightful and endearing one), Mark just a man in his mid-thirties, struggling with daily life in the 21st century, and he wants to share his struggles with you.

Tonight’s performance was the first of four ‘work-in-progress’ shows, which will eventually be refined to become his forthcoming “I’m Not Here” national tour – but this scrappy, incomplete form suited him, as he gets distracted by his own random thoughts (which appear to surprise him), as well as the responses from the night’s audience. Only the gradual telling of a story involving travelling to Australia with a slightly dodgy passport seems to keep Mark on some sort of focus.

But focus isn’t really Mark’s thing. With a ridiculous amount of nervous energy buzzing around his brain – unlike the static bee in one of the evening’s few actual proper jokes – Mark just invites you into a world of worry, as if to say “you think you’re neurotic? Wait ‘til you get a load of me!”. Personal and intimate, he welcomes you into his stressed-out mind, full of insecurities within insecurities, and it’s as hilarious as much as it feels true.

On the way, he wanders down various trains of thought, including his feelings of inadequacy as still regularly phones his parents for help, despite being one himself, and his feelings of excitement as he gets recognised in the street (only to find they think he’s David Baddiel). Clearly life isn’t getting any easier as he gets older. Bless him.

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