“I am a storyteller”, Vachel Spirason informs us at the start of Slow Clap’s Truth, a show devised by Stephanie Brotchie and Spirason himself. These words are uttered with the utmost seriousness, or so it seems, before Spirason launches enthusiastically into an expressive speech, satirising theatrical conventions: “I don’t have props or someone back stage and there’s no audience participation, it’s not that kind of show”. Spirason’s tone of bittersweet fondness manifests itself soon afterwards in the form of smoke, outlandish props and a gloved stage “hand”. It’s clear that Truth will be anything but serious.
For the next sixty minutes, the audience is treated to an out-and-out assault on the senses as Spirason journeys deep into his subconscious to deliver a side-splittingly funny, ramshackle story of his encounter with a naked man on a Kiwi island which led him to the discovery of a “magical” item in a Woolworth’s bag for life.
Along the way, Spirason suffers a series of blackouts which are tallied on a whiteboard upstage, and during which he performs an array of characters.
An audience favourite is the hapless Latin Lothario, Juan, whose characterisation hinges primarily on the use of puns such as “I’m going to do this Juan more time”. Later, Eastern European fitness instructor Vachek’s aerobics routine obliterates the last of Spirason’s promise of no audience participation: we are gleefully encouraged to join in and get fit. Spirason’s spirit and energy ensures that all audience members are more than willing to go along with it. This particular vignette is absolutely joyous.
Less successful though, is the inclusion of a friendless and seemingly disabled understudy. However, this character’s stage time is kept to a minimum and does provide an occasional laugh; most notably in a skit involving the consumption of cat food.
A simple set – comprising an MDF dresser and a ladder cloaked in black cloth – ensures that all eyes are on Spirason throughout. What’s clear, as he gyrates in boxer shorts on the lap of a willing audience member, is that Spirason is fearless, and all the better for it.
The show’s eclectic soundtrack, made up of everything from Dario G to Patsy Cline, complements the show perfectly and reflects its ethos of offering up a little bit of everything. The real ‘truth’ is that Slow Clap have a show to be immensely proud of.
Truth is playing at the Soho Theatre until 28th July. For more information and tickets, see the Soho Theatre website.