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Thursday, October 11, 2012


(Paul Zerdin with Grandad Albert & Sam)

Review of production at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival by Caroline Smart

When the 2012 Witness Hilton Arts Festival programme was released, I must admit to having reservations about the choice of a ventriloquist as the flagship production despite the fact that Paul Zerdin has performed at the Royal /Variety Show and has numerous TV and stage credits to his name. However, ten minutes into his performance, I readily acknowledged that it was indeed an excellent choice.

Casually dressed in black jeans, a T-shirt, jacket and takkies, Zerdin justifiably deserves the description of being the UK’s leading comic ventriloquist.

An engaging performer, he immediately engaged with his audience and got their support. His comfortable and casual presentation belies the fact that he is highly skilled at his craft. His microphone technique is brilliant as is his command of voice ranges and accents.

He introduced us to his first puppet, Sam. All freckles and dressed in jeans, Sam is a spunky character with a silly giggle. He picked on a member of the audience, pronouncing him ugly. Said long-suffering audience member was also called on later in a sequence where all he had to do was stand still and wear a mask which Zerdin manipulated while giving him a high pitched voice.

Next up was the belligerent and bespectacled Grandad Albert. With wild hair and dressed in checked trousers with braces, striped socks and slippers, he is also deaf and keeps reminding everyone that he was “in the war”.

I believe that Zerdin’s performances change their content and language levels to suit the audience requirements. With many youngsters in the show I saw, there was no profanity or inappropriate behaviour. He invited one delightful young helper onto the stage and “spoke” for him to hilarious effect.

I enjoyed every minute of Paul Zerdin’s performance. Don’t miss him if he comes to a theatre near you! – Caroline Smart