Neal Portenza & Joshua Ladgrove’s Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove

By Jess Welch 

Neal Portenza & Joshua Ladgrove’s Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove is unlike any other show in the festival. It’s not just a comedy show, it’s also a seminar on selling bilge pumps and it will teach you to be the highest selling bilge pump salesperson in your region. It’ll also make you laugh uncontrollably and uncomfortably in turns. But always in the best ways.

This show starts before it starts and ends before it ends. If you think that’s weird, you should see everything in between. Just when you think you have a grasp on the show, it takes a wild turn and surprises you all over again.

There were moments when I cringed and had to look away, but the rest of the audience seemed to take it in stride. The night I was there, the audience didn’t bat an eyelid and joined in with no hesitation. Having seen Ladgrove perform before, as his classic Portenza alter ego, I knew I was in for something crazy, but I had no idea just what I was in for. I’m glad I went in with no expectations, because it blew me away with it’s intelligent stupidity. The spot on impression of a motivational speaker is incredible and the overall acting impeccable. The show is written in a deceptively simple way that you could leave without seeing how bizarrely intricate the details are.

There are points where the audience is left in utter bewilderment and the individual bits don’t always make sense in the moment, but they somehow never fail to bring the show full circle in a way that almost leaves you dizzy. Some elements work better than others, but overall it’s a hilarious and insane show.

Ladgrove is unpredictable and it’s wonderful. Many might not recognise the man behind the bright red cheeks and beret of Doctor Professor Neal Portenza, but I think he will soon be making another name for himself. While we might miss the Doctor Professor, I am excited for what Ladgrove will do next.

Don’t worry if you know nothing about bilge pumps before you enter. Go to this show ready to laugh and you will learn about the wonders of bilge pumps.

Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove is on at the Chinese Museum.