REVIEW: John Shuttleworth, The Crucible

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HE couldn’t fail.

Hometown crowd, the right blend of new material and familiar material and John Shuttleworth, as ever in Sheffield, had the audience in the palm of his hand.

From his opening line of “oof, you’ve caught me mid-Soother” as he chewed on a sweet to his stadium rock encore, the show is a triumph of selective observation of the trivia in our lives.

He has the wonderful knack of pinpointing the brands, characters and assumptions of middle-ish England and giving them the most whimsical of twists to create comedy gold.

But there are differences and the show feels fresh. There’s new material from misunderstanding ebay feedback to the mid-life joys of midweek.

The stage phone calls to his sole agent Ken Worthinton and wife Mary have gone and the show flows more smoothly, if anything can be smooth in the garden-centre, white-spirit world of Shuttleworth.

He’s added a skit on acting lessons and his musical references to everyone from Shalamar to New Order are as hilarious as his songs and workingmen’s-club-reject organ show.

Who else could build an act around the cardboard missing from a Bounty bar, Brasso’s distinctive label and Vince Hill?

Shuttleworth’s world is gloriously small and cosy and we all recognise bits of ourselves in his obsession with the mundane.

Warm, funny and still improving Shuttleworth retains the ability to turn mediocrity into magic.