How entertaining? ★★★★☆
Thought provoking? ★★☆☆☆
8 April 2012
This a theatre review of THE THINKING DRINKER'S GUIDE TO ALCOHOL.
“Got tight on absinthe last night. Did knife tricks.” Ernest Hemingway
On Thursday 5th April 2012 at the Soho Theatre, two drinks-journalists-turned-raconteurs hugely entertained. A sold-out audience received a hilarious whistle-stop tour of six different beverages. Opening with an announcement of the health detriments alcohol can cause, including death, we are quickly introduced to our hosts and illuminators, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham. McFarland tells us it is not that we as a country “drink too much”, but that we “drink badly”. Sandham adds that the evening is a celebration of alcohol. And it totally is. Sitting at the front has its benefits; I was treated immediately to a bottle of tasty Belgian beer – Afflingem. Throughout the next hour the audience receive five samples of high quality spirits with jokes, anecdotes and the history behind them. The duo cover art, politics, philosophy and religion. The wit is varied: plays on words, satire, puns and the physical. There appear to be no sacred cows as the humour sails very close to the bone. I’m not easily offended, but others of a more sensitive disposition may find some of their wisecracks not to their tastes.
There is dexterity and fleet-footedness to their delivery, and a winsome self-deprecation. Even when the occasional jest falls flat, the gag rate is fast enough to ensure the momentum doesn’t stall. THE THINKIG DRINKER’S GUIDE TO ALCOHOL would get an extra star for entertainment if it were half-an-hour longer. At 60 minutes or so, McFarland and Sandham never outstay their welcome, but it feels slightly too brief, while also packing in so much.