Michael Workman’s award-winning Mercy is the story of Augustus, a Cuban malcontent exiled for criticising the Castro regime and set adrift on a boat full of cabbages. Workman recounts Augustus’s tale with musical accompaniment and hand-drawn cartoons on a cardboard television. We know what it sounds like: a wacky, whimsical bit of twee. It’s not that.
Comedy Review: Michael Workman’s Mercy @ Soho Theatre
With the emphasis more on the storytelling side than on the comedy, Mercy is a dark folk tale peppered through with some excellent jokes. Workman is an expressive, captivating speaker. As he bounces around the stage, full of barely-contained energy, he constructs this fully realised alternate reality with a philosophical bent and it would take a harder heart than ours not to get lost in it. Sure, it moves a bit slowly at times, some of the transitions are awkward and those cartoons are perhaps oversalting the pot, but Mercy is moving, thoughtful and unexpected.
Without a star rating to make this ending a bit easier, we’ll say “highly recommended” and be done with it.
Michael Workman – Mercy runs until the 8 September at the Soho Theatre. Tickets are £10 and available online.