If you choose to see this show, a very strange hour awaits you. You can't say you haven't been warned. But if you take the plunge, you'll emerge on the other side a little wiser, though maybe even a bit sadder for a while.
Colin Bramwell presents a one man show combining his unique brand of story-telling, poetry, comedy and music. The musical numbers lift what is otherwise a sombre tale of I'm-not-sure-what. Is it a story of love and loss? Or a strange Scottish man's mission to prove the Earth is flat? Or is it simply the narration of some autobiographical excerpts from this man's life? Or all the above? You can't be sure. But one thing is for certain – this man knows how to engage an audience.
With avid eye contact and conversations with audience members, all of whom he calls 'Matthew', he adds the element of spontaneity, changing and revising the narrative each night. Through his thoughtful use of lighting and sound, he transports us from a windy loch in Scotland to a dark silence by the Mekong River.
My personal highlights include the 'ham and tomato' song from his days as an enthusiastic Subway employee, and the clever poem titled 'Illuminati', which he recited from his dream diary, written in a purple haze.
Elements of love and longing flit between moments like butterflies. One moment we're giggling at him getting caught masturbating by the local postman of his tiny town, the next he is standing on the edge of the world, to “look over the parapet and hear the laugh I've been missing”.
Despite the lack of cohesion making the story at times difficult to follow, Bramwell's brand of storytelling is truly worth experiencing.
Umbrella Man is one of those shows that's almost better in retrospect: a love letter to strangeness that invites you to go on your own adventure.
Umbrella Man is showing at the National Wine Centre until the 1st March. Tickets can be purchased here.