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Madman Marathon Man

A scene from Madman Marathon Man A scene from Madman Marathon Man
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Flipping from Ancient Olympians, to David Beckham, to Dionysus (with the shrugging off of togas and a spot of made-up marathon training), this show twists from comedy riffing on 21st-century male friendships into something altogether stranger.

Performing alongside Sam Tomlinson, writer Matt Squance takes a surreal, zig-zag sprint through a comically familiar landscape of self-loathing gym trips and armchair sport-star worship. Here, protein shakes become magic potions made from the essence of the athletes you watch on telly.

With a random smattering of audience interaction thrown in, this show swings between being mischievously scattershot and overly self-consciousness. But even its misses, when it’s not as provocative as it thinks, somehow still keep us onside.

Perhaps it’s because, as Sam and Matt, best friends whose realisation they’ve grown apart threads the hour together, Squance and Tomlinson’s baffled expression of loss hits on something true. Squance has a sharp ear for tongue-tied awkwardness, which comes out in the self-conscious sketches and pauses.

The show’s abrupt change of tone, leaving its conceit that Matt wants to prove himself to Sam by training for a marathon trailing behind it, doesn’t work – squandering more than it gains. But yet again, there’s something weirdly touching and tender in the fracturing.

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Verdict
A scattershot comedy about friendship that keeps you on side even when it misses
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