It is exciting to encounter a young standup using Brian Friel’s play Translations, of all things, as the frame for his debut solo show. Less exciting that he apologises for how “gay” theatre is before doing so. That’s symptomatic of Vittorio Angelone’s debut, which introduces audiences to a very gifted comedian, while trying a bit too hard to be all things to all people. It’s sufficient that Translations – also Angelone’s title – is a smooth and thoughtful hour of comedy riffing on the relationship between England and Ireland, as experienced by an immigrant from Belfast to London.
There’s also material on his Italian immigrant family and some throwaway stuff about “clicktivism” in a show which saw Angelone nominated for best newcomer at the Edinburgh fringe last year. Some pert material covers his arrival in England, where the natives see Englishness as “the factory default” and bask in blissful ignorance of their country’s global abuses. His relationship with an English girlfriend is parsed, amusingly so, for its colonial subtext. Anti-Irish prejudice is shown to be alive and violently kicking.
This is all delivered with a light touch and ample self-irony by an act with the craft and confidence of a comic twice as experienced. When Angelone confesses to issues with anxiety, it’s a surprise, because his onstage demeanour betrays none whatsoever.
This material does get him in a bit of a tangle, mind you, as he details his experiences in therapy while distancing himself from sad comedy that asks for its audience’s sympathy. There’s no need: triangulating aside, this is an eye-catching young comic with nothing to apologise for.
At Soho theatre, London, until 28 January