Ashton Brown ANXIOUS TO MEET YOU
19/05/2017 - 19/05/2017
Hi. No. Hello. Wait. Hey hey! Awful. Wasssup! Jesus what am I saying?
Welcome. Please come to my show.
You might not know this about me but I suffer from a pretty bad anxiety disorder. And a bit of OCD. And a few other acronyms. As a result I have some ridiculous stories to tell so we can all feel more comfortable having a good ol’ chat about these kinds of things in the future. I promise it won’t be scary. Not for you.
This show isn’t going to be awkward – I’m energetic as hell (my ADHD makes sure of that) so you can expect it to be high energy sprinkled with madness and smothered in honesty filled with stand up, sketch and ridiculousness.
I’m anxious to meet you. But I’d still really like to.
“Ashton’s performance was high energy, sincere, and wonderfully self-deprecating” – The Speakeasy
Winner of the Playmarket Best New Zealand Script Award 2015
The Friday 19th May show will be filmed.
Q Theatre, Auckland
Fri 19 May 2017
Full Price: $20
Group 5+: $17
*service fee may apply
Frequent coarse language
Adult themes: R16
Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,
Successful confronting of anxiety for therapeutic laughs
Review by Nik Smythe 20th May 2017
Following a sold out run in the Q Cellar in the first week of the festival, Ashton Brown returns to regale a packed out Loft, which holds about three times the capacity. It’s a vanity project of sorts, sharing his very personal journey in his life struggling with depression and anxiety in a classically extroverted manner. Bounding on in his green cap, tie-died t-shirt and sort of matching chucks*, Ashton takes a moment to adjust to his new crowd size and recover from some early upbeat hecklers throwing him off.
A self-celebrated two-time Raw Comedy Quest semi-finalist, it’s evident he’s in this game as a means to express himself for his own mental wellbeing as much as anything else. Following a handful of ice-breaking anecdotes about his recent marriage and disastrous honeymoon, being a high school drama teacher and playing Pokemon Go, we eventually come to the show’s advertised theme as set up by a re-enacted phone call from his sweet doting mother.
The remainder of the production has Brown transitioning with predictable comical ineptitude between two characters: himself in the hat, and Leon, a friend of the family with a counselling qualification from Correspondence College, not in the hat. Leon questions Ashton with patronising insensitivity, as befits a novice psychologist with a list of prescribed treatments but lacking in empathy or any real understanding of the mental conditions he’s pledged to cure.
Taking the classic loose, slight-to-middlingly awkward stand-up persona of a man who does this for a living because he’s no good at anything else (a la Louis CK), it’s apparent his real therapy is just this: confronting large gatherings of people and baring his mind and soul with no shame and minimal compromise.
As Leon he gets to make amusingly tactless remarks around the touchy subjects of mental health and suicide. As Ashton he elucidates and qualifies his personal experiences and generally encourages the wider discussion, with occasional PowerPoint aids and at one point in rhyme.
Suitable acknowledgement is made to the good work of the various organisations dedicated to addressing and treating sufferers of these crippling conditions, while inevitable passing jabs are taken at the woefully inadequate support offered by our own government in recent news. Essentially though, it is a comedy gig in which everything is played for laughs with substantial success.
*And pants too: pale beige cuff-rolled chino shorts. I just couldn’t fit the pants into the sentence without disrupting the linguistic flow, only now it means I’ve had to write an entire paragraph just to clarify that it’s a late-night comedy gig, but not that late-night.
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