The Lowry, Salford
Guest reviewer: Demi West
Fat Roland is a comedic onslaught of musical puns, cultural references, and audience interaction. Taking place in a single, hand-scrawled, cartoonish set, the monologue leads the audience through a narrative centred around the trials and tribulations of being a record shop owner in the digital age. Throughout the performance, we’re guided through Fat Roland’s internal debate surrounding updating his shop to something more fashionable and millennial-friendly. Slop anyone?
Before the show even begins, the audience is fascinated by the set design, which is simple but complex, the black and white squiggles being plenty to look at before the spoken-word artist comes onto the stage. The bold shapes and thick outlines on the shop’s furniture are reminiscent of something that 80s Will Smith would have rapped in front of for a music video, giving the performance an air of nostalgia.
Fat Roland works in unison with the unique set design, tying in the records titles on display with his narrative, utilising everything that was visible to the audience. Whilst the set doubles as props, Roland has his own collection of 2D drawings, including realistic photos of popular celebrities, ensuring that the jokes are perfectly supplemented throughout.
The sound design for the performance works well, as it’s synchronised with the narrative and Roland’s movements. From songs that complement specific pieces of the narrative, to an advertising piece that seems too eager to wait its turn, the sounds amplify the comedic effect of the overall show and stay true to Fat Roland’s previous career as a DJ. Fat Roland holds the show together with impeccably timed reactions to the sounds being played, provoking an impressive response from the audience.
A casual mood was upheld from start to finish, with the audience being invited to answer questions, participate in pieces of the narrative, and even look after some of the props. It is clear that Fat Roland is more than familiar with performance, knowing exactly how to get the room roaring with laughter, from start to finish.
To conclude, the show is a fantastic combination of comedy, cartoons, and creativity, and is great for those looking for something uplifting and entertaining throughout. The independent nature of the show gives it a refreshing, homemade feel that makes it refreshing and engaging.