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Coronavirus Kent: Review of Stewart Lee's Snowflake/Tornado - the last theatre show in Kent as venues shut due to Covid-19 pandemic

I phoned ahead to check the show was still on - it was only sensible given the Prime Minister's ambiguous update earlier in the day.

The woman who answered assured me it was, but in honesty didn't seem entirely convinced herself.

Stewart Lee staged what may have been the last theatre show in Kent for a long time last night Picture: Tristram Kenton
Stewart Lee staged what may have been the last theatre show in Kent for a long time last night Picture: Tristram Kenton

So, it was against this backdrop of impending doom that we travelled to Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre to take in what could prove to be one of the last performances in a while... anywhere.

I'm pleased to report it was worth the risk, even if Stewart Lee announced to the audience it wasn't one he would have taken.

Snowflake/Tornado is split in to two parts, finely tuned over a six-month run at London's tiny Leicester Square Theatre.

It was at one of these experimental shows, albeit for a previous tour, where I last took in the spectacle of 'The Times' greatest living stand up'.

That was in Sevenoaks and he was very good.

Maybe it was the trip deeper in to Kent, maybe it was the way the world has changed in the two years since or maybe, as he concluded early on, it was coronavirus whittling down his audience so that just the hard core fans were left but he was better this time.

The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury is one of many Kent theatres forced to shut due to the outbreak Picture: Chris Davey.
The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury is one of many Kent theatres forced to shut due to the outbreak Picture: Chris Davey.

Not many people know this about me but my personal comedy litmus test revolves around the history of baked potatoes - if a comedian can make me cry with laughter at the fact the carb-packed snack didn't arrive in the UK until a few hundred years after legend first mentioned Robin Hood, then he or she gets the thumbs up.

Stew passed with flying colours and for good measure embarked on routines about cult horror Sharknado, Alan Bennett and rotisserie chickens.

They're all threads in a far larger tapestry which he masterfully weaves together at the end of each half - first in the form of a story and then a song (panic not, it worked).

But as always the show is the sum-of-its-parts and this equated to a heavy-hitting take down of the anti-PC generation and the state of the modern world.

It's a world Stewart Lee may well be getting tired of but that certainly doesn't mean he's slowing down - even if he does now qualify for free sessions of chair-based activity at Hackney Council-funded leisure centres.

So, when you do finally emerge from your toilet roll fortresses and baked bean induced slumbers one of the first things you should do is snap up a ticket to watch the self-proclaimed master of the multiple call back - you won't be disappointed.

* Stewart Lee's Snowflake/Tornado was due to tour until July 17 with two more dates at the Marlowe which have now been postponed. Who knows when the tour will resume but when it does tickets can be bought at stewartlee.co.uk/live-dates/

For events and venue affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Kent, click here.


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