21/08/2020 - 25/08/2020

Nelson Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

One man’s hopes and dreams, channelled through an iron. This comedy weaves together satire, song, and copious amounts of brightly coloured linen.

Rising star of the Christchurch theatre scene Mark Darbyshire returns to the Bay Landscapes Nelson Fringe with his first solo show, after appearing in the sold-out improvised show Strangers (Impulse Theatre) last Festival.

Blasting through the steamy void between musical theatre and stand-up comedy, Ironing Man is side-splitting, heart-warming, and unashamedly queer.

If you’ve never paid to watch someone iron, now is your chance. Come prepared to laugh, cry, and share in the universal wonder of ironing.

Mark Darbyshire is among Christchurch’s most brightly dressed and well-pressed comedians. He weaves together music, theatre, and anecdotes into a well-ironed comedic tapestry. His recent stage appearances include lead roles in A Chorus of Disapproval (Canterbury Repertory Theatre) and The Boys in the Band (Riccarton Players). He also produces sketch shows, and performs improv, stand-up, and musical theatre.

Nelson Fringe Festival 2020 
Adopted by Robyn Reynolds

Available online from the 21st to the 25th of August

Note: This show has been filmed and will be presented online.
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Theatre , Stand-up comedy , Solo , Musical ,

1 hr

Flat-out foray into pressing matters with an astonishing musical repertoire

Review by Ruth Allison 22nd Aug 2020

What do you look for in an iron? A question well worth the asking. Do you have a humble Kensington from the Warehouse or perhaps you prefer the more expensive Russell Hobbs? Whatever your choice, the Ironing Man will make both come alive in his sparkling musical theatre.  

Mark Darbyshire describes himself as an Ironist. He’s also a linguist, a talented singer, the master of timing and a brave solo performer. His Ironing Man show at the Nelson Fringe Festival deserves a full house and an appreciative audience. For 50 minutes this stand-up comedian rattles off the funniest utterances in his effort to persuade us that ironing is a therapeutic pursuit which can unleash your emotions and channel your feelings.

Pressing issues of being gay to faith and the environment, the pace does not let up. For Darbyshire it is a race to see how much he can fit into his 50 minute slot. He dives straight into musical renditions (noting in the credits that he has no permission to parody the songs he has stolen) from Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar to Gregorian chant.

The iron is at the centre of them all: the object of his passion, the collaborator in the value of well-pressed shirts, the Judas of faith and the urbane bow-tied betrayer. There’s little Darbyshire can’t do with an iron. Even the ironing board plays its part., collapsing under the weight of a shirt tower. This is a search for one iron’s hopes and dreams.

The secretly gay world of Ironing Man is pulled together with an astonishing musical repertoire. Despite some off-key crooning, the end result is surprisingly endearing. There’s no doubt Darbyshire has a great singing voice but it is the lyrics that save the day. “What’s the carbon footprint of my iron?” gives rise to gems like “needlessly sucking energy from the power supply” and “thoughtless emissions”.

The highs and lows of being secretly gay thread their way through the dialogue. The delivery is at times perfection. In the midst of an emotional outburst, there is a reverie on the potential of a white turtleneck under a yellow suit jacket. Floral shirts come to life and irons flirt with each other. In his own turn of phrase, his Ironing Man is “not a charismatic young revolutionary in a well-ironed shirt” but he is clearly happiest when ironing and he does have the final word: “Life’s an ironing dream.” 


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