It’s very easy to be cynical.
In fact, for many of us it’s the easiest thing in the world and comes much more naturally than the other thing (hope?) whatever that is. Easier still is the ability to snicker and grumble in the face of someone on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. For those of us constantly teetering on the edge of apathy and indifference, it’s much easier to laugh at an optimist than it is to laugh with them.
Anthony Jeannot however, is an optimist whose sweet and buoyant storytelling will warm even the blackest soul no matter how dark-and-twisty they claim to be. The 28 year-old hits the ground jogging with tales of how his life goals have shifted dramatically since he was 14. The heartfelt confession that his once grand ambition for six-pack abs has been reduced to just wanting a body that allows him to board an aeroplane without shame, sets the self-deprecating and lightly prickled tone.
Rage Against the Man Child is a constant love letter (at times quite literally) to the 14 year-old self Jeannot seems to admire and detest with equal measure. As a result, the show is grounded in light-hearted tales of youth and kidulthood.
A mile-a-minute the show is not, but you’ll be hard pressed to find yourself without a smile on your face throughout Jeannot’s intelligently crafted tributes to what it means to be happy, grumpy, mad, sad, glad and any other Dr. Seuss approved emotion you could go through. The childish glee Jeannot elicits on stage is a testament to the joy with which he injects his performance. It’s clear that he thoroughly enjoys laughter and is completely chuffed every time he inspires it. The atmosphere of the show hearkens back to story-time in kinder where the storyteller has absolute wisdom. I had no hard time believing everything Jeannot said as gospel and even if I wasn’t laughing, I was captivated.
While sometimes they grow too long to hit as hard as they could, there’s a palpable rush that takes hold when a story gets close to the finish. Hanging onto the edge of a story is a dangerous game of trust. If a joke can be told in under a minute, no harm done if it fails to do its job. However, Jeannot’s stories are hefty. They require patience and they need you to believe they’ll ring true. I feel Jeannot could commit even more than he does to these tales, making it easier for the audience to do the same.
But regardless, I felt at no point betrayed by the trust I was putting into Jeannot’s hands. Constantly endearing and surprisingly philosophical, you’d do well to take the same leap of faith.
Anthony Jeannot– Rage Against the Man Child – is on at The Downstairs Lounge (Grand Mercure Hotel) until April 17th. Tickets are available online and at the downstairs lounge box office.