"The old-fashioned art of communication"
by Andy MOSELEY for remotegoat on 31/07/12

The stage is bare except for an old-fashioned telephone, complete with dial rather than buttons, and cord rather than hands free. The phone rings and a nervous man debates who it could be and whether or not to pick it up. That sets the scene for the next 45 minutes as Mat muses about phones and the people who may be calling him, whilst occasionally picking up and talking to whoever is on the end of the line.

There are some nicely observed moments such as where he points out the oxymoron that is a salesman's 'sophisticated novelty' and where an obscene caller's question of 'what are you wearing?' is answered with 'does it matter, I very much doubt we'll be at the same parties' and it all moves effortlessly along never sounding like it's in danger of running out of things to say or outstaying it's welcome, unlike many phone conversations. It's also curiously old-fashioned, with mobile phones and texts hardly getting a look in, and the idea of staying in waiting for a call talked about as if it wasn't some bygone relic of the good old days.

Writer Julia Lee Dean has performed as a stand-up and a lot of 'Is it Really Good to Talk?' has the feel of either a Seinfeld or Michael McIntyre (with apologies to anyone who feels it's a crime to mention those names in the same sentence) routine with occasional vignettes added-in to illustrate the material. Mat Pinckney does a good job in keeping the audience's interest and creating a character that sounds like he is neurotic about what might await him every time he picks up the phone, and Nic White provides good support as various callers.

It's not going to revolutionise the way we communicate, and does seem to be slightly out of step with today, but it's still a charming and entertaining piece with at least something that everyone can identify with. Whether they'll call their friends and tell them about it depends on how similar they are to Mat, of course.

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