Fest Review

The ultimate Edinburgh Festival guide
Matt Harvey: Wondermentalist
Posted by Rose Wilkinson, Sat 15 Aug 2009

4 stars ****
Matt Harvey’s performance of poetic stand-up comedy really is a wonder to experience. Entertaining and refreshing, Matt Harvey has something that more performers should bring to the stage: pure, unaffected humility, undiminished by a conspicuous talent.

Harvey performs his poems, each written with the attention and skill of a first-class craftsman, with a charming blend of self-deprecating irony and seriousness, and his quiet, unassuming voice holds his audience captivated from the first time he opens his mouth to the moment we must reluctantly allow him to leave the stage.

It’s poetry with a unique style, as Harvey plays with words, rhymes and rhythms with witty humour, while keeping the themes entertainingly mundane – from potatoes and kippers to curtains, and his tiny and fiercely green Devon hometown of Totnes. Almost all of his poems are performed from memory, some with startling velocity, although his ability to tongue-twist leaves each syllable’s clarity impressively intact. Throughout, his use of pauses and facial expressions anticipates the audience’s responses in a way that makes us feel he must know us already.

Like his superhero alter-ego, Empathman, Harvey is the kind of person we would like to get to know better: the length of the queue at reception to meet him and buy a signed copy of his book after the show is testament to that. Amenable, intelligent, funny and incredibly gifted with words, Matt Harvey really does have it all—including an absolute gem of a show.

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