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A History Of The World Backwards

Published April 17, 2008

After last year’s two-week sell-out run at the Tricycle, it was inevitable that Robert Newman would return to the scene of his triumph with his new show, No Planet B – The History Of The World Backwards. Kathryn Merritt attended the first night.

Described as a musical, No Planet B is actually part musical, part stand-up comedy and part play. Joined on stage by Diego Brown and the Good Fairy, who provide musical – as well as verbal – accompaniment, Newman spends the next two hours hurtling from 2006 to the Creation Myth of the Neanderthals, with whirlwind stops along the way, including climate chaos, the Black Panther Party, oil, the women’s movement (including suffragettes marching under banners that read: “You Decide for Both of Us, Dear”), technology and Christopher Columbus.

The play/musical/stand-up is also about loss, with the story of doomed lovers in the London Blitz passed on from historical character to character, from Thomas Hardy to Shakespeare to Jesus.

Apart from a range of hats, there are no costumes in No Planet B, but it is testament to Newman’s ability to captivate the audience with vivid descriptions and spot-on accents to tell his story, that intricate costumes aren’t missed. The use of musical instruments – ranging from drums to the ukulele – and screen-projected images also enhance the performance.

It would be a monumentally difficult task for anyone to cover the history of the world in two short hours, let alone backwards, but Newman proves more than capable of delivering his epic with wit and a brainiac’s knowledge of world events.

No Planet B – A History Of The World Backwards is at the Tricycle until 15 July.

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