Review: IVO GRAHAM: CAROUSEL, Park Theatre

The production ran from 4 to 7 June

By: Jun. 10, 2024
Review: IVO GRAHAM: CAROUSEL, Park Theatre
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Review: IVO GRAHAM: CAROUSEL, Park Theatre

“It’s got to be this way”

Ivo Graham: Carousel is a step in a new direction for Graham, who is most well-known for his standup comedy, having been performing since the young age of eighteen.

In this show, he “invites you onto his own carousel,” bringing you into his world through an hour of remembrance. Graham begins by giving us some insight into his life, starting with the moment when he is running to catch a train from Edinburgh to London, desperately trying to make it to the city even though he will be returning later that day for his show at the Fringe. To quote one of his friends, “No one else lives like you do.”

The majority of the show focuses on what Graham considers to be things that he will never throw away, a list that he considers endless, though he has managed to narrow it down to ten items. Through these items we learn more about Graham and his life, ranging from a drawing from his four-year-old daughter drawn on the back of a National Doodle Day invitation to a strange sculpture Graham made when he was younger, a face that seems to be trapped in an eternal state of torment. 

Throughout the show, there are moments when Graham takes a step back from centrestage, going behind a microphone and letting music play as a soundtrack to his spoken prose. These are the times in which Graham’s love for music is able to shine through, as he tells the audience about a range of songs that he associates with important moments in his life, moments that he wishes he could forget. He becomes, as Graham himself says, a “DJ and playwright,” using the music to help tell his story. 

As to be expected with a turn away from standup comedy, there are some serious moments to be found. Graham goes into some detail about his romantic life, including how he was in a relationship with a woman eight years older than him which lead to the birth of his daughter, Edie. He discovers that running and raving are the ways he is able to escape his anxieties, telling us about what has given him the determination to run a 2:59 marathon.

During the more sombre moments, he tends to sit down on a stool, appearing more vulnerable than standing up on stage with confidence. I found myself choking up during a moment of silence he has for one of his friends, Tom, who recently passed away. The moment is accompanied by a minute-long song and it is heartbreaking to observe Graham going through his own grief during this scene. 

But, that is not to say that there are not sweeter and funnier moments - Graham is still a comedian, after all. I particularly loved when he discussed the times he talked about reenacting The Tiger Who Came to Tea with his daughter, putting a tiger onesie on his head, not actually wearing it as he must quickly switch into the role of Sophie’s dad while his daughter plays Sophie. There is also another great moment involving Belushi’s Sports Bar in London and a printer that somehow, surprisingly, leads to one of the most meaningful moments in the show. 

Ivo Graham: Carousel is a beautiful work of storytelling that allows audiences to see a different side to the comedian. By mixing music, stories and some important items from his life, Graham has created a fascinating hour-long show that will appeal to not only his fans but those just experiencing his work for the first time. Truly, nobody lives like Graham.

Ivo Graham: Carousel ran from 4 to 7 June at the Park Theatre.


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