Miller announces themself onto the small stage area, with the Cavern Club set out lengthways into 3.5 long rows of benches and chairs. The intimacy of the space feels just right knowing the personal content we are about to experience. Indeed Miller will cover a lot of both personal and informative storytelling over the next hour but their energy, and apparent comfort in his own quirky skin ensures that it never feels too heavy.
The show traverses explanations of Miller’s various mental health experiences, illustrative stories, impressions and endearingly fluid self-commentary. Miller is in constant conversation with themself as they reflect on how well the last joke landed (or not), and how “not everything needs to be commented on Tristan”. I find Miller as a performer captivating and charming in equal measure. Their energy does not falter for the full 60 minutes of comedy and, from Andrew Garfield to Andy Serkis, Miler's impressions are genuinely fantastic.
The style of performance is far from polished, but given the complexity of subject matter it feels more honest and, in its own way, instructive that Miller is completely alive in the room with us. The looseness of Miller’s performance is also reflected in the structure of the show.
The first twenty minutes of the show has this delightful feel of intentional tangents. Miller starts saying one thing, gets distracted and then comes back to his original point or story after a wandering thought or three. I think this free-flowing but self-aware form works for the piece quite well but it does not continue throughout. The second half of the show seems to lose this natural feel and become a series of disconnected bits, rather than a fluid procession of ideas.
The art of the wandering thought is one perfected by legends like Billy Connolly, and recently by Romesh Ranganathan in his Netflix special Cynic. I think Manic Impressive would benefit from some structural threads to return to and keep the show together, in this vein. A central story to return to can act as an anchor for both audience and performer and gives a greater sense of safety for the work to go further adrift in between.
Manic Impressive is already a delightful evening of comedy and, with some structural tightening, could be a remarkable piece of work. I’m delighted to learn that Miller is spending a year on our shores, and I’ll certainly make an effort to see more of them while they’re here.
Manic Impressive runs through to March 9th at the Cavern Club. Tickets are available through the Fringe website.