Review: Russell Brand at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

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Coming on stage to a sold-out theatre because “it turns out if you criticise the media it’s hard to make a living out of the media,” Russell Brand promised us a “raucous night” on his Re:Birth tour, a show that of course is on the topic of birth since he and his girlfriend had a daughter last year, but also about change and transformation in the world. Pretty deep for a show that mentioned vaginas five minutes in.

The first half of the show was based on audience surveys filled out when people booked their tickets, answering questions like “Most embarrassing sex story?” and “The worst thing you’ve ever done to your parents?” – a “Gestapo-style drilling”. He did this allegedly to break down barriers and to make us see that the anonymous faces around us were actually depraved individuals so it would bring us closer and give us some kind of realisation about other people, to rupture the anonymity and to make us feel less bad about our own secrets… or just to embarrass people. But regardless, we did get to find out that someone had sex in a car and complimented someone’s dalmatian during it, as did everyone watching it being streamed on Instagram Live, so what more could you want out of your evening? He used these surveys as a way to talk about his own life, talking about how he’s “still mental despite being 14 years sober” and how whenever he hears about new drugs he wants to try them – even ones meant for his dog.

Brand made full use of the resources available to him, opening with an old educational birth video with clips of his political moments and news headlines about him cut into it, and throughout the show he full on roasted his old political interviews. He cleverly mixed the topics of our changing political climate with the event of his daughter’s birth, and how the two have been impacting him – even if he did go from talking about being a previous womaniser with a daughter to what best makes a makeshift vagina in 10 seconds (a melon, apparently). We were shown clips from his Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman and from an interview outside Downing Street when he was trying to save a housing block in London, as he reflected on his performance in them and tore them apart.

The self-described “fuckaneer” talked us through the entire birth of his daughter, about how birth is just like “Russian doll vaginas”, how when just his daughter’s head was out it was like she was wearing her mum as a sleeping bag,  and ultimately how his transcendence was the birth of his daughter, how she gave him a new perspective on life and how he just wants to make her happy. It’s clear he’s matured (slightly) and he’s trying to show us that different side of himself – he’s still mad, but knows when to reign it in and let others talk instead. For someone who was described by Fox News as the “reason culture is collapsing”, he gave a packed theatre of people an entertaining night full of vaginas. What more could you ask for?

For someone who was described by Fox News as the “reason culture is collapsing”, he gave a packed theatre of people an entertaining night full of vaginas and embarrassing stories. What more could you ask for?

Russell Brand is touring with this show until November next year. Tickets are available here.

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Politics and International Relations graduate, Live Editor 2016-18, now a semi-functional adult and journalist. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about the above @cmkavanagh on Twitter.

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