We line up at the always impressive Tuxedo Cat to be told theres a slight delay to see "The Trial and Death of Socrates" starring Vigilantelope's Joel Tito. Smoke billows from the bottom of the door. And then he enters the hall, ushering us all into the venue in a grand Kabuki theatre outfit and manner; Joel as a Japanese warm up act. After a few fluent Japanese jokes fall on deaf ears, it becomes apparent that he's been mistakenly booked under the pretense that we all speak Japanese as well.
It's a fit beginning for an incredible hour of characters, mime and the heartbreaking tale of Socrates (no relation). We're being invited by an omnipotent voice to judge if lonely, socially inept Socrates should live. Socrates lives alone, writes stolen famous prose alone, and holds raving dance parties in his bedroom- alone. At a church service run by a priest strong on football analogies, Socrates asks an audience member to not only become a human keyboard stand but to also complete the unplayable notes using their voice. It's moments with the audience that make "The Trial and Death of Socrates" shine, including seeing the real Joel, as an over-enthusiastic audience member throws off an incredible auctioneer impersonation. Joel is so likeable as the mute, hug-waiting Socrates that I couldn't stop an empathetic "aww" from leave my mouth when the final verdict is handed down. There's also a very high set of production values in the show, with simple lighting, props and audio finishing of a well rounded, comfortable performance.
"The Trial and Death of Scorates" manages a to tie in large characters, existential philosophy and a warm story into one amazing hour of comedy.
Only three more shows for this festival so get in quick. Hopefully he'll bring the show to Comedy Festival next year.