REVIEW: Mat Ricardo - Showman

Mat Ricardo: Showman (Purcell Room: Queen Elizabeth Hall)

As part of the London International Mime Festival, the Queen Elizabeth Hall is presenting several shows, one of which I saw last week, and this one: Mat Ricardo.

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I know Mat personally, having performed with him many times over the years, so it was great to support him in this show as a large group of cabaret performers turned out to watch.

Mat began as a street performer in Covent Garden, a fact he talks about during the wonderfully witty production, and it shows: he is quick, agile and rarely pauses for breath - all attributes needed when attempting to hold the attention of disinterested, busy shoppers in one of the most hectic parts of London. Seeing him, therefore, in this context (a theatre, with a paying audience, all coming specifically to watch his show) was lovely, and a tribute to how far both he and variety as a medium have come.

Stand out moments included his lightning fast yo-yo trick - blink and you'll most definitely miss it! I especially loved his new routine, juggling (or flaring, but that's a point he covers very well!) with the drinks bottles; I was quite hypnotized, and it may have even replaced my previous favourite, his Gene Kelly-esque Hat & Cane act, which made an appearance here too.

Mat is most well known for his incredible Tablecloth act, which has been updated for this show. I'm not going to give it away, but even a slight misstep at this point worked in his favour as it brought the patter of the show full circle, closing where we opened, and we closed with the audience yelling for more.

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Even knowing Mat and seeing various shows over the years, we learned something new at this show: his passion for his art form is obvious both through the stories and the routines which varied from smooth and sophisticated to actually quite terrifying at several points! There was a lovely sense of flow to the production as he juggled, balanced and manipulated various objects, enhanced by some lovely lighting and rather a lot of stage haze (which led to one of my favourite lines of the night!)

It was a funny, thrilling, touching and personal production and if you get a chance to see Mat Ricardo in action, it is a chance not to be missed.


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