The Mash House was full for the finale of Pete Otway's debut solo show, and despite being the end of his run, he'd lost no energy. From start to finish, Otway gives it his all.
There's an endearing quality to him, like a cuddly bear, but with equal measures of feistiness and vulnerability. His style is the kind to be found on the comedy circuit, with a mainstream appeal and a confident ability to deal with both drunk Saturday night stag and hen dos and the more discerning punters. In that respect he is neither especially remarkable nor distinctive, but his material sets him a little apart.
Initially, Otway tells us he'll be sharing the big love story of his life; but as his set progresses, it becomes apparent that he's taking a less worn comedy path, as he focuses in on the topic of intrusive and fear-provoking thoughts. There's a great deal of genuine honesty here, and it's a brave choice that pays off. As he describes his journey, he builds to a heart-warming flourish, finishing by reminding us that things always do get better. It's an upbeat and charming message which entirely suits this affable comedian.
This show started a little late; perhaps for that reason, Otway seemed to charge through it with plenty of enthusiasm, but no space for light and shade or variety in the delivery. Especially given the topics, I think a subtler approach would have benefited and in places heightened the comedy. Otway also comments that we'll only hear two jokes; of course he's underplaying the reality, but at times they did feel a little sparse.
For me, Six Years From Then fell slightly short of excellence when measured against the multitude of stand up shows this Fringe. But I did appreciate the angle he took – his exploration of unwanted thoughts is something I'd like to see probed and drilled into further. He pulled in a sizeable crowd and, as debut solo shows go, this is a pretty strong one.