Peter Searles' Hey Gringo! Norwich

MIRANDA YATES These backpackers' tales no doubt gain their smooth stylistic veneer from Searles' background and straight acting.

MIRANDA YATES

These backpackers' tales no doubt gain their smooth stylistic veneer from Searles' background and straight acting. He can afford to rely on the actor's gift of steady timing and eschew the comedians jittery dependence on the laughometer.

Peter Searles' Hey Gringo! – seen at Norwich Arts Centre – is more sit down than stand-up, so less frightening live and spotlit and more like ear wigging from a rather charming bar-room raconteur. His persona owes a debt to Bill Bryson – the tourist's naivety and keen trainspotters interest in collecting absurdities are there.

But Searles is very British. His delivery is rather like an old-fashioned BBC children's presenter, well spoken but pleasantly nutty.

Laid-back tales of romantic misadventures and clashes with corrupt and intractable authorities in “C&A” suits are pepped up with well-drawn mime and light mimicry.

But he's unashamedly well connected, and his adventures are peopled with “good blokes” and ex-pat media types, which blunts the edge of the wit and removes the rough bits from the coat of the shaggy dog.

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It's all terribly polite but there's grace and humanity in his rendering of the people he meets and a natural reserve that presents every last sordid detail from being exploited for the sake of satire.

By the end, you do feel it might have been a jolly wheeze to go with him but you wouldn't want to give up the day job and grow a beard for it.

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