MY LAST WEEK WITH MODOLIA
I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY...
Moor's story takes you right through from first infatuation to a genuinely moving ending. He's always been unsurpassable for delirious inventiveness and appalling puns, but now this is refined by an increasingly confident use of sentiment. So one minute he is talking us through the details of Planet Kremlin (a theme restaurant kitted out with Cold War-era memorabilia) and the Scandanavian cultural experince that is Lapp Dancing, and the next he floors us with the observation on love that "a butterfly in someone's stomach can cause a hurricane in the heart of another." Poetic, poignant, funny as you like - the spirit of Jackanory is alive and well and living in the body of Ben Moor.
Jonathan Gibbs, The Scotsman, 13th August 1998
The greatest delight of my Fringe so far has been Ben Moor's solo comic narrative My Last Week With Modolia. This year he succeeds admirably. As his 20-something character recounts the history of his love affair with an octognarian cosmetic surgeon, Moor's trademark oblique observations blend beautifully with a child-like, though never cloying, wonder. Last Week... is as sweet as the nut that Moor undeniably is.
Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times, 20th August 1998
TELLING TALL STORIES
Ben Moor is something of a pioneer in (story comedy). His new show, My Last Week With Modolia is another journey into exquisite Moor-world, where amateur plastic surgeons perform rhinoplasties with putty for endless adaptability, and the hot new restaurant, Planet Kremlin, features hourly parades of agricultural machinery. Moor's narrator digs up buried treasure for a living. As he approaches 30 he starts to see his friends as "yellow brick roadkill; knocked down on the road to our dreams," but is rescued by the love of an older woman; 60 years older to be precise. This is a delicious piece of theatre by an inspiring performer, with just enough of a naughty edge to stop it slipping from pleasantly sweet into winsome.
Hettie Judah, The Times, 14th August 1998
Ben Moor, the Ken Campbell of the slacker generation, is on manoeuvres again. This time he has become a treasure trove seeker, and fallen in love, en route, with an older woman... of about 88. In most theatrical hands, this would be an implausible and unworkable notion. But Moor, once again aided and abetted at every turn by director Erica Whyman, makes it possible through his trademark quirkiness and the usual set of ingeniously dodgy one-liners. I have been lucky enough to see each of Moor's five Edinburgh productions in the last six years and there has been a marked progression in his work, from cheap but intelligent verbal gags to plots involving full scale human warmth. A warning to would-be impersonators - only Moor possesses the requisite gawkiness, geekiness and all-round sneakiness to pull it off. Why can't shows like this transfer to the Cottesloe?
Phil Gibby, The Stage, 13th August 1998
A COMIC GEM BRIGHTENS UP THE FRINGE
A GAWKY, GEEKY STAR IS BORN
Ben Moor is not your average stand-up comedian. This gawky, geeky 29 year old from Whitstable is a genuine original, and his gently whimsical narrative monologues, spiralling off into clouds of fantasy before descending sadly to the imperfections of Planet Earth can be strongly recommended to all fans of Ken Campbell, Steve Martin or Garrison Keillor. My Last Week With Modolia is his fifth show at the Edinburgh Fringe and it has quietly become a sellout. As he tells the tale of his doomed love affair with the 88 year old plastic surgeon modolia Vass, Ben imagines everything from a Kabuki episode of Eastenders to the contants of a box of Amnesty International Christmas crackers, via some knotty philosophical conundrums such as "Where would we be if we didn't know where we were?" It could be very irritating, but in fact it's utterly charming and a great relief after the glut of cheap cynicism on offer elsewhere. Moor is a graduate of a hard school of comedy - he was an Oxford undergraduate with the more rumbustious Lee and Herring, Armando Iannucci and Al Murray - but has always been determined to go his own sweet way. He's not interested in playing the stand-up circuit or becoming a big shot on television... and claims to be more inspired by books than real-life observation.
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, 24th August 1998
Gawky Geek recounts his doomed love for an eightysomething "anti-Lolita" in My Last Week With Modolia . A mock-poetic tragicomedy full of overblown magic. "We all seemed to be like Yellow Brick Roadkill - squashed on the way to achieving our dreams..."
Phil Daoust, The Guardian, 7th August 1998
This new romantic comedy, written by Moor, is an enchanting mix of the prosaic and the poetic, full of improbable imagery, daft lines and a strong dash of bathos. Moor has a great presence, aided by a gangly, boneless physique, and he drives the story at a cracking pace, never giving your mind a chance to wander. Catch it if you possibly can.
Phil Daoust, The Guardian, 11th August 1998
A WAY WITH THE FAIRIES
My Last Week With Modolia is a sentimental but sharp comedy full of appalling puns, dizzying flights of fancy and, first and foremost, a world of imps that only the lucky few can see.
Phil Daoust, The Guardian, 20th August 1998
Ben Moor's fabulously funny flight of fancy about madness and love.
The Guardian, 19th August 1998
You have to believe in fairies to be charmed by Ben Moor's whimsical My Last Week With Modolia. An exceptional show, not least for being a rare sex-free zone.
Georgina Brown, Mail on Sunday, 23rd August 1998
MAGICAL REALIST DELIVERS A SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION
It's not often that the words wistful, intelligent, fantastical (and especially not charming) could be applied to a comedian plying their trade on the Fringe. More often than not, your chosen comic will spin a whole hour out of a couple of stunts, shouting very LOUD and, the most reliable fall-back position, treating the audience to a few variations on a knob gag. Not Ben Moor. His new monologue, My Last Week With Modolia is a gentle story of boy meets girl. Admittedly, it's not every day that a cynical twentysomething junior plastic surgen falls in lobve with an 88 year old woman (his "anti-Lolita") But it's exactly that pleasure in the telling of fables, a magic realist's delight in the bizarre coupled with a host of garlicky puns, curlicues and tangents that entices and enthralls the audience. It's refreshing that a comedian has the audacity to produce a show that is unashamedly sentimental, never resorts to shock tactics, but instead relies on the craft and the writing and Moor's etiolated and expressive physique. "Be a fly. Be very a fly," Modolia tells Moor's character. "I've never quite known what that meant," he replies. "She was very old, you see." That's the telling sentiment: we spend an hour in Moor's company with a mix of bemusement and awe, complicit in the tale, drawn in, without ever losing sight of its beautiful and strange otherworldliness. It remains to be seen whether the Perrier judges will be as daring in their choice of best act as Moor has been in trading stand-up for something far more poetic and ungraspable.... the chances are that they won't. But it would be their loss. Don't miss out on the chance to be with the fairies in this boundary-subverting performance from a truly gifted storyteller.
Mark Wilson, The Independent, 12th August 1998
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
The route to success is the avoidance of smutty monologues on sex, drugs and alcohol. Moor's singular brand of "new romantic" comedy coupled with his enthralling story-telling ability, will ensure a long stay on the comedy circuit
Fiona Sturges, The Independent, 15th August 1998
Don't expect a straightforward, aren't-old-people-funny routine - Moor's gags are far too wayward and sophisticated for that.
Zoe Williams, Evening Standard, 29th July 1998
He's twentysomething. She's 88. Still, the path of true love is often paved with pot-holes, and there Ben Moor takes us through a surreal, sweet, literate love story that should not be missed.
Siobhan Synnot, Daily Record, 14th August 1998
Ben Moor gives you a dozen ideas where any other performer gives you one. His quirky narrative about falling in love with an 88 year old woman whose lust for life exceeds that of any of his apathetic gang of twentysomething friends is packed with surreal detail, smart puns and daft flights of fancy. If it weren't for the gangling Moor being such an endearing performer, and for his story having such a whimsically warming heart, it'd be easy to argue that he is too clever for his own good. His machine gun wit keeps a grin on your face, but it's too cerebral to make you laugh out loud. Luckily, Moor isn't playing it for laughs - the gags are an added bonus - and it's his charm that wins the day.
Mark Fisher, The Herald, 17th August 1998