"In his debut festival show, Undistinguished, Alasdair Tremblay Birchall explored the achievements that he and others have fulfilled as well as the decisions behind the actions we take. He told stories from “religious figures” about the failings in their lives and examined the legacy he was likely to leave. The majority of the show comprised of Alasdair recounting significant moments from his life and presenting plenty of wild theories that he had developed about life and the world around us. The majority of these concepts were so crazy that they were almost plausible!
Wordplay was the basis for most of the material, in particular there were many hilariously contradictory statements (whose humour crept up on you) and literal interpretations that were followed to their illogical conclusions. In keeping with the shows’ title, he played up on the self deprecation to create empathy as well as using it as a basis for the theories that often touched upon the absurd. There was a touch of cynicism to some of his bits and a dark undercurrent popped up occasionally to give some contrast to the silliness.
I was fascinated by his stage set up and how he subverted theatrical conventions. Stepping out of character so to speak (even though he played both parts identically), Alasdair would provide commentary or background to the show. In giving us a glimpse into the shows’ development, he was able to successfully introduce a number of quite “out there” elements to the show which didn’t exactly fit in with the main topic; an interesting alternative to simply wandering off on tangents. It was clever device to blur the fourth wall and keep the audience on their toes.
My previous encounter with Alasdair’s work was alongside Spencer Hodges, so he came across as quite reserved in comparison. On stage alone for almost an hour, I discovered that he was a dynamic performer who was personable and demonstrated considerable range in his acting; convincingly playing the wacky character, the downtrodden underachiever and the cynical twenty-something equally well. He was able to successfully give the illusion of spontaneity with some tight scripting and great timing; making everyone feel as though they were part of the conversation as he did all the talking.
Undistinguished was a fantastic show that balanced the silly with the poignant and gave us a wonderful insight into the skewed mind of Alasdair. Even knowing that all he had told you was far fetched, you will probably not view the world quite the same afterwards."
Review by Colin Flaherty