Joseph Morpurgo: Soothing Sounds For Baby at Soho Theatre

Soothing Sounds for Baby, is one of those rare comedy shows that seems to really stay with you. Thanks to the ridiculous narrative Joseph has created and the journey through his record collection courtesy of an appearance on Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4′s long-running radio programme, this show will live long in our memory.

With some exceptionally well-cut audio clips, half of the show is Joseph’s interview with a rather tetchy Kirsty Young. It was so well done, it left our theatre companion congratulating Kirsty for agreeing to record such material for Joseph. We however were pretty certain they were all sounds taken from her show and edited to excellent comic effect for the interview with Joseph.

Joseph was instantly likeable from the moment he started to lead us into his first track, whilst being slightly put down by Kirsty. Explaining the fateful day he encountered an older women in a record shop, we begin rooting for him on his his comic journey through the tracks. When he suddenly stands up and impersonates the artist from the first record, Joseph Cooper and his album ‘The World of Joseph Cooper, the comedy really hots up.

He impersonates Mr Cooper by instantly getting into a leaf covered jacket, whilst one leaf covers his eye. He pulls an audience member, Will, on stage for a piano lesson. He then gets the audience to sing a simple two bar phrase. We struggled with that, but surprisingly less so with the transposed graph of the predicted UK economy growth and Joseph’s journey from home to the theatre. Will was then asked to play an étude, whilst all but one member of the audience sang a simple phrase, and one unlucky person on the front row was asked to sing an outrageous Latino-like “RANGOOO’ solo. Much hilarity ensued, and Joseph’s comic improvisation was quick to show, when responding to Will – ‘My breakfast-based banter is dry today’ – a perfectly timed comic riposte, showing he can be funny on impulse as well.

This was followed by a frightening re-reading of A. A. Milne as we were all put under a huge duvet, ‘What is the matter with Mary-Jane?… What is the matter with Mary-Jane?… WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH MARY-JANE, SHE HAS THRUSH!’. As the story rolls along we are introduced to more bizarre old vinyls as the tale about Joseph and the older women unfolds and eventually reaches a ridiculous denouement in a forest which we will certainly not be giving away. You will just have to go see him yourself.

Fantastic comedy, weaving great storytelling, hilarious set pieces, audience participation and a spattering of the absurdist old vinyls you will ever hear and see. A performer with real character, who can sing, impersonate, rap and tell a great story! Runner-up in the Edinburgh Fringe Fosters Comedy Award, although maybe he deserved the main accolade… Go see this before it ends, you will not be disappointed.

Highlight of the show – without doubt when Joseph suddenly went all pirate radio MC on us, spitting bars about further bizarre vinyls such as ‘Golf’, ‘Sounds of WW2′ and ‘The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin’ to name a few. Wills attempt at the Stanley Clarke method was also a great example of audience involvement.

WIGS 5/5

Catch Joseph Morpurgo: Soothing Sounds For Baby at Soho Theatre before his show closes on the 13th February.

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