Cactus, Adam Hess. Heroes at The Hive. ****


Back with another frenetic hour of back to back jokes, Adam Hess explodes onto the stage immediately establishing the awkward, nerdy character we have come to know. This year’s show, Cactus, establishes itself with Hess’ ‘getting to know you’ opener, a handful of facts only he could think of, and the manic explanation that the hour ahead would be ‘very very funny’. It’s a hysterical combination of a teenager in front of their headmistress and an enthusiastic graduate desperately proving his worth in a five minute interview; except it’s an hour, so strap in!

The hour establishes itself with some initial narrative which, to be honest, is more of a background framework to what unfolds. His long distance relationship, becoming too difficult to maintain, has broken up and Hess is trying to move on. Having spent the majority of his money on flights, to prevent loneliness he signs up for a medical trial, which proves a disaster; and so unfolds a series of tales in which he presents himself as the socially inept man-child who always does the wrong thing. There is reference too to his family; a devoted mother who did everything for him (even peeling the Babybel in his packed lunch!) and his father who bore witness to one of the funniest stories of the hour. Imagine a young Hess in a leotard frantically charging through London to his father’s place of work…I’ll let him explain the rest! Whether these tales are routed in truth, one can't tell, however the way Hess draws his audience in with his physical excitement, it's certainly convincing.

Part way through ‘Cactus’ Hess claims he’s dyslexic and if this is the case, then he’s absolute proof of the intelligence that is so often masked by the work on the page. His physical presence, all limbs and explosive energy, help to depict his tales by giving a visual indication of the awkwardness and anxiety in the situations he finds himself in. In this respect one can’t help momentarily making a connection to Mr Bean, however the verbal content of his material makes him a much more visceral comedian to engage with. Although his anecdote from a flight he once took is one you might not want to engage too much with!!

‘Cactus’ is well worth changing your schedule for. The 6pm slot is especially difficult year, but this is an hour you shouldn’t miss. Plus the mental overload of Hess’ rapid fire delivery almost guarantees two shows in one!