Impossible to pin down or to faithfully describe. You have to go and see it for yourself.
It takes the form of a one-man sketch show which follows the life of a fake Noel Edmunds, chosen for the particular class of B-list celebrity which he embodies. A succession of sketches depicting different points in Noel’s life, occasionally buttressed by a video projection in the background. This is, however, a woefully inadequate description of a show which defies easy characterisation. It is a leering, fractured glance at the vacuity of the cult of celebrity. It is a jarring and occasionally scary insight into a world of fame, and of public ownership of other humans. It is a brave farce whose aggressive pointlessness is difficult to overcome. It is all of these things, and more. Perhaps this is the point; a show as elastic as its depiction of celebrities, who can be distorted and stretched to mean whatever we want them to mean. Perhaps it’s not.
What is beyond doubt is the talent of Nowell’s creator, Josh Dolphin. As a performer he leaps and bounds, sweats and cries, evokes and emotes. More impressive still is the writing. Dolphin’s monologues have a lyrical quality which occasionally breaks through into genuine beauty. In one sketch he reads from a notepad about the industrial heart of Shropshire and it is utterly spell-binding. This talent is as yet unpolished; there are occasional stumbles over lines and jokes which fall flat. There are also points where the audience is so lost that it verges on unsatisfying. These are, however, the exception. Dolphin’s potential is limitless, and it would not surprise me if he were to rise to national prominence.
A History, w Nowell Edmurnds is sure to be many different things to many different people. It is impossible to pin down or to faithfully describe. You have to go and see it for yourself.