Ed Aczel has a problem. Lots of problems, really. Including that he hasn't done any preparation for this show. But none of these are insurmountable with the aid of a flip-chart and an emergency jigsaw puzzle, as he explains in his show cunningly entitled Edward Aczel Explains All The World's Problems... And Then Solves Them
Taking the audience on a ramble through the history of climate change, the financial crisis, the War of the Spanish Succession and comedy in general, a stoopingly shuffling Aczel urges us in mumbled patter to lower our expectations. For the British - a nation which queues up for days and pays through the nose to go to Wimbledon, but still takes an umbrella - this is difficult. With a little encouragement - or rather, discouragement - from Wittgenstein though, we're there.
It's difficult to write a review of Aczel's style without using words such as "deconstruction", "meta-comedy", "postmodernism", "shambolic" or "satire", and thus this review will be no exception. Yet despite his deliberately shambolic - damn it! - charm, Aczel commands the sort of respect that leaves you quaking slightly that you might be picked out during the raffle for a signed Rod Stewart album ("it's scratched"). At one point, Aczel states that he shall engage the audience, although neither conviction nor success were ever within his remit. He professes to renounce all control to the audience for the direction of his set, throwing it open in the style of a geography lesson pop-quiz which makes you wish you'd paid more attention to the topics at hand. But this is the greatest fallacy of all. Aczel is a man who is completely in control - not only of his audience, mastering every latecomer and wannabe heckler with naught but a glance and an intake of breath - but also of the art of comedy. He's taken all aspects of the traditional concept of a set and reformed it in his own image - i.e. one that's rather scruffy around the edges, but that you wouldn't be worried about introducing to your mum.
He may not crack so much as a smile - let alone an actual joke - all set, but still manages to edge around the precipice of Jack Dee-esque cynicism. This act as an anti-comedian is all so believable, that you'll be surprised how much you enjoy it.
Until 30th January, 8pm Tickets £12/10 available from the Soho Theatre Only 29th/30th left!