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Review: Sandi Toksvig at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall

11 February 19 words: Zoya Raza-Sheikh

We got down to Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall to check out Sandi Toksvig...

Basked in the low light of the Royal Variety, Sandi Toksvig took us away from the drama of Brexit to the dynamics of biscuits. Through charming anecdotes, Toksvig willed us to confront our awkward Britishness and think about the reality of death, the meaninglessness of millennial fame, and how to make a difference to those around us.

Sandi is no stranger to Nottingham having written and performed a Shakespearian deconstruction The Pocket Dream, Nottingham Playhouse in 1992. She later wrote the musical Big Night Out at the Little Sands Picture Palace for the Playhouse, so it’s fair to say Sandi knew what she was getting into. And with a brief blaring of Beethoven, beaming, she strolled onto the stage to greet the crowd. Kitted out with a comfy armchair, a small table piled with books, and a rather lecture-style screen, the stage was set. It wasn’t outrageous, but the quirky quality of layout tied perfectly to the comedian. And Sandi’s intensely pink overcoat and contrasting navy-blue shirt really was a show-stopper of an outfit.

Naming the show after a friend misheard her being called a national treasure, Sandi took to proving we are all, in our own right, national Trevors. Promising less of a comedy show and more an informal conversation, Sandi pushed onwards, layering witty one-liners, technical jokes, and fascinating facts to keep our attention.

With a packed theatre, Toksvig had managed to unite us all with her wonderful reminiscing of her late famous father, her misunderstandings of millennials, and, shockingly, laughing at biscuit-related deaths – it’s more likely than you think. Even after a short intermission, Sandi draws the crowd closer with a light-hearted Q&A allowing the crowd to ask whatever they please. And if you were still skeptical, she delightfully recalls when a lady from Bradford asked what her bra size was, so anything was on the table. Several questions later, and a few gifted badges, the show was drawing to tidy close.

Before it was all over, Sandi had one last hurrah for us all. On came her adoring wife who presented the comedian with some coattails. You’ve probably guessed it, but the show was going satisfyingly full-circle. Graced with the return of Beethoven, Sandi offered a bit of soulful truth – she felt her freest when pretend-conducting therefore, naturally, we should do the same. And bringing us to our feet, spontaneously we all began waving our arms around as if orchestrating our own symphony. Yes, it was as ridiculous as it sounds, but it was liberating and in-the-moment.

So, after all, it looks like Sandi Toksvig is a national Trevor. After kicking off the show which what she called “a chain of curiosities”, she delivered exactly that, and an outstanding line up of light-hearted fun, inclusivity, and humour. If there was anything to take away from the show, Sandi reminded us how we all truly are national Trevors.

Sandi Toksvig performed at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on Thursday 7 February 2019

Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall website

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