It’s quite an experience spending an hour in a small room with an intense man who’s telling you candidly about a vendetta he pursued against a journalist. Even if, as a critic, you try to avoid putting too much of yourself into a review, it’s hard to escape the fear that he’s going to come after you if he doesn’t like what you’ve written. Naturally, this has an impact on your emotional response to his journey, but David Quirk knows what he’s doing.
In this dense and frequently uncomfortable show, he tells us how he obsessed over a paragraph a journalist had written about his brother, who’d been a promising Australian rules football player. “Obsessed” is not an exaggeration: Quirk admits to stalking him and harbouring some seriously dark thoughts.
This is all tied up with a period in which the award-winning comedian (and sometimes actor) became disenchanted with his industry. His self-sabotaging became so noticeable that “Quirk” became a verb, and his health problems can’t have helped either. The bristling anger he now displays might well be a performance, but it comes from a place of truth – and of pain – and it’s incredibly brave of him to turn it into art.
Technically, it’s an hour that would more accurately be described as storytelling than stand-up, but what it lacks in laughs it makes up for with a memorable exploration of what happens when something negative becomes so enlarged in your heart and head that you can’t help but be overpowered by it.
David Quirk – Astonishing Obscurity
The Stand 4
Until 27 Aug (not 14)