Bloomsbury Theatre, 31st March 2012
Having enjoyed Richard Herring’s Christ on a Bike last year, which explored his relationship with Jesus, we were intrigued to discover whether he has managed to find a subject even more controversial than the last. Apparently he has. Inspired by some of the adverse audience reactions he received last year when he suggested that romantic love might just be a myth, Herring has come back with a mission – to destroy love before it destroys him. Within moments of starting his show, he delivers a full frontal assault on all aspects of ‘love’. The existence of killer sperm is proof that all women are essentially promiscuous; parental love is unimpressive because it is more or less compulsory, not to mention the rather explicit term he coins for the, erm, fruits of one’s loins.
The title of the show is borrowed from ‘Welsh philosopher-musician’ Howard Jones, a musician who was massively influential for us – he influenced to give up watching ‘Top of the Pops’. Nevertheless, Herring treats his subject with all the intellectual rigour of a small child asking why? repeatedly until there are no more answers. He tests the concept of love to destruction in his own signature style, supplying both questions and answers in an impressive demonstration of devil’s advocacy, or should we say he combines the role of devil’s advocate and devil’s adversary all in one package. The humour comes from the almost insane absurdity of the various speculations which he indulges in – perhaps the piece de resistance being an exploration of the romantic uses of Ferrero Rocher chocolates in the context of exponential mathematics. What starts as commonplace observation soon turns into mind-bending and very funny flights of fancy which are hard to resist.
Richard Herring calls himself a cynical romantic, and despite a whole series of routines of which Socrates would be proud, in which he deconstructs the conventions of romantic love, ultimately this is a heart-warming show, not least because it ends with the announcement that he has finally proposed to his girlfriend. Whatever happens, no-one will be able to say he hasn’t thought it through.