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Rounding off a weekend here at InNewcastle, we are at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House situated on Westgate Road in the centre of Newcastle. This impressive building, which is now run by a non profiteering trust with all proceeds go to the upkeep of the venue. 

Opened way back in 1867, where locally brewed talent took to the stage, putting on drama, opera, and other musical spectacles, it’s was with the improvement of the railways in the 1880’s that saw an influx of competition from touring companies especially from London, thus making it harder for locals to achieve stardom. Tonight is a return of those good ole days were a self-proclaimed Geordie lad Lee Ridley aka “The Lost Voice Guy” headlines with his stand up show, “In It For The Parking.” 

We all probably know Lee Ridley from his well-deserved victory in 2018’s Britain’s Got Talent not to mention the viral snippets over social media. As I await his entrance, I look around at this astounding grade 1 listed building, it houses features of national importance, and I can see why, the facade that envelops the stage with its beautifully carved columns, this Victorian architecture is lavish beyond words. I’m used to seeing a giant curtain at most theatres I’ve attended but this the first biggest wooden curtain I’ve witnessed, as it goes up an announcer introduces with a boom The Lost Voice Guy to a large seated audience.  I was not alone in the observing of the venue, I could see and hear the audience excitedly shocked as they wait patiently to see “The Lost Voice Guy” in reality as opposed to their TV sets. 

This is a very unique show. Lee Ridley’s set up is ready and waiting, Ipad used as a voice synthesiser sits with a chair and table.  Ridley takes to the stage a roar from the crowd, he immediately engages to kick off the show. His comedic format centres around observational comedy, even though it’s delivered through an Ipad synthesizer his comedy timing is sharp and well received by a laughing and applauding crowd. The houmous geordie dialect ever present within the posh synthesised accent. The comedy is on point with an edgy political bite, he is not shy in making his own disabilities part of the joke,  peeling back the layers of what could be sensitive; informing the audience of his daily challenges with – not his disability but the ‘moronic’ society of today.  

With several references to the Late professor Stephen Hawking, maybe it could be construed that these are relied on too much, but how many of our great British comics have relied on antidotes about their mother in laws for instance.

Lee Ridley may not be able to communicate in the usual way of stand-up, but he can hold his audience and entertain with an undeniable talent which is underlined by an intellectual understanding of the world in which we share. It was at this point that I realised that what had started out as a review of him, had left me reviewing myself? I was laughing at his fantastic humour at the expense of his disability which gave me a sober reality, this guy wasn’t out for sympathy it wasn’t self-deprecating, he just wanted to make me laugh and at the same time laugh at what life had dealt him. 

At the end of what was a great show, Lee beckoned his mother to come and join him on stage, she did rather take her time in doing so, Lee was on his Ipad in an instant with the quick wit line of “take your time”! He gave her a special gift in gratitude, this wasn’t symbolic self-gratification, it was clearly a son overwhelmed by his success and love for his mother especially in his hometown of Newcastle. So I have to admit in not only shedding a tear for laughing. Lee continues his one-man comedy tour throughout the UK. The lost voice guy concept is that of a genius!

Reviewer – Carmichael – THE SLABCITY SHOW

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