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Notts Lad Lewis Doherty on His Sell-Out Edinburgh Fringe Show Wolf

29 October 18 words: Anna Murphy

Notts lad, Lewis Doherty, brings his sell-out Edinburgh Fringe show back to his homeland

photo: Geraint Lewis

In a world of Hollywood film re-makes, musicians covering once-popular songs and cookie-cut Instagram “influencers” wearing the same mix of fashion, it can feel a bit like we’ve seen it all before. But those who might be feeling slightly jaded at familiar formats should look no further; Notts lad, Lewis Doherty, brings us Wolf; an hour-long, one-man show that takes us through the mean streets of Shadow City on a crime-riddled, mickey-taking adventure. And it’s bloody brilliant.

Wolf’s premise centres around rogue detective, Jay Walker, and his mysterious death. With no leads, and a cold case, it’s up to Walker’s ex-partner, Patrick “Nobody calls me Patrick” Wolf, to return home to solve the mystery, and he’s back with a vengeance.

Doherty explains: “When I was a kid, I grew up watching loads of action films and crappy TV. My taste in films was mainly dictated by my two older brothers, and when I first got the idea for Wolf, I wanted it to be a pastiche of all those ridiculous action movies.

Wolf treads the line between theatrical drama, action film and comedy. My background was in comedy, so it felt totally natural to include that in the performance.”

Wolf includes all the usual things you’d expect to see in an action film genre; there are multiple car chases, drug lords, bent coppers, bank robbers, fist fights, clichéd metaphors and a whole load of testosterone. But while most Hollywood car chases include miles of road, several motorway pile-ups, guns, explosions and numerous casualties to help add to the drama, Lewis is armed with just himself and a chair. To make matters even trickier, he plays all the characters. Yes, all 32 of them.

“I think my favourite character to perform is Magic Man,” laughs Doherty, referring to one of the play’s baddies, a Mexican gangster. “You think that he’s the bad guy but the audience soon realises that he’s just small fry; there’s always a bigger fish. He’s a fat, sweaty, sleazy, horrible man, who owns a strip club. He’s grotesque. I just really like being him!”

Doherty was born in Gedling and raised in Arnold; after studying at Christ the King secondary school, he went to the Oxford School of Drama, before moving to London and starring in multiple theatrical productions and TV programs (you might have seen him in BBC3’s Hood Documentary). After writing Wolf and teaming up with co-sound designer, Chazz Redhead, Wolf was first performed at Oxford’s North Wall Theatre, quickly followed by a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was a sell-out success; not bad for a show with limited funding. But, despite all of those victories under his belt, it was Doherty’s sold-out performance at the Nottingham Playhouse for Amplify Festival that was his most nerve-wracking performance to date.

“I was the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Doherty says. “Seeing so many familiar faces including friends, family and even former teachers, it mattered so much more. I just really wanted it to go well.”

Needless to say, Lewis needn’t have worried; Wolf’s brilliance is in the plot containing every stock character you’d usually expect to see in an action film. They’re familiar and hilarious, yet played with such conviction by Doherty. You really buy into the fact that he’s both a violent cyborg ninja (yes, really) and a sexy receptionist; a new kid on the block and a near-retirement “seen it all” officer. And the familiarity is where most of the humour lies, too; we know how ridiculous most action scenes are, with the lead character hardly breaking a sweat during a violent brawl that sees all the twenty men he’s fighting either impaled, broken and/or maimed, while shouting sarcastic one-liners to Eighties “ironic” power ballads. And Wolf more than delivers on all of those things. You almost forget that it’s the same person being all of those characters, at the same time.

So, success at the Edinburgh Fringe, a sell-out show on home turn. What’s next for Doherty and for Wolf?

Lewis explains: “I’m really excited to be able to take Wolf on tour next year and, as part of that, I’ll be performing it at London’s Soho Theatre in March 2019. I’m proper honoured to be included in their programme. And I’m currently writing the next part; it isn’t a sequel as such, but expect more of the same theatrical elements and humour.

“I just want to keep pushing as many expectations. What else can you achieve with just one man on stage?”

Lewis Doherty performed at the Nottingham Playhouse as part of Amplify Festival 2018. Fancy going to see Wolf? Details of his Soho theatre show can be found here

Nottingham Playhouse website

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