Sunday, February 25

Open Mic by Rob Drummond – Soho Theatre

The concept of an Open Mic night online is brilliant. Streamed live via TicketCo from the Cabaret Space at Soho Theatre, Rob Drummond acts as compere with people participating over zoom. Excited faces beam out – some who will be taking part – others who have just turned their camera on for laughs. Me, I just watched via livestream on the TV.

Like you would expect on an Open Mic, the variety is broad. From singing to spoken poetry to comedy, the quality is variable, and so are people’s internet connections. ‘Squeeze’, an original song written and played by Ian, was the highlight for me. Catchy and upbeat, it was probably the most fun thing about this show.

Billed as a ‘fun night’ I would have to say ‘awkward’ was the most frequent emotion I felt. Drummond’s unstable and downbeat attitude with people was depressing, despite reminding himself several times to ‘keep it light’. He continued to ask prying questions about lockdown rule breakers, mental health issues and alcohol abuse. None of which was funny. While I appreciate the challenges and difficulties, I did think this was going to be light-hearted fun, not a constant rollcall of doldrums.

Drummond dominates the show with his heartfelt confessions and cathartic musings with the occasional performance thrown in. Any fun the performer or audience may have had is rapidly boiled away under the continual bombardment of how difficult life has been and is.

As the end squirmed its way through, I was left feeling perplexed and wondering if Val was a stooge. Did Drummond really just admit to potentially spreading the virus by being asymptomatic and breaking the rules? Was this a play masquerading as an Open Mic? A social reality experiment about the consequences of our actions during the pandemic?

Open Mic is a great concept, but if this is the future of going out, I’d rather stay in.

Reviewer: Samantha Collett

Reviewed: 1st April 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★