Avent & Monie – Back For Good

The Ustinov Studio

Friday 21 & Saturday 22 June 2013

Friday and Saturday nights last week saw the Ustinov Studio play host to a joint fundraiser for Theatre Royal Bath and the Bath Cats & Dogs Home.

Local panto star Jon Monie and school mate-now-marketing professional Graham Avent were a successful comedy double act two decades ago, winning an ITV competition, supporting Greg Proops on tour and playing across the UK, including at the celebrated Hackney Empire.  Adulthood and pragmatism seems to have got in the way, but luckily for us, the comedy bug has taken hold again and this talented and energetic duo are back together.

It would be a surprise if this was not the loudest, longest laughter the Ustinov has ever heard in one night.

For 90 minutes straight they delivered a rapid-fire comedy banquet, serving up something for everyone, with nods to the genius of The Two Ronnies, Dick Emery, Joyce Grenfell and Victoria Wood, and everyone of quality in-between.

What made the show such a success was that was not a homage, but full-on, gleeful, often mischievous fun. Avent and Monie write their own material and stand on the shoulders of giants. They were comfortable on stage, were generous with their audience and easily straddled the ranging tastes of a Bath family audience, from sixth-form innuendo to snappy, tongue-twisting social observation.

A stand-out personal favourite was the excellent battle of the market researchers – a sketch of equally high-quality writing and very talented performances.

The fun and pace of the live sketches was balanced with recorded, TV-style skits dotted through the night like mouth-freshening sorbets (to stretch this banquet metaphor to its limit). The pair were joined by Helen Brown and Phil Styles for several four-hander sketches, and that sense of a team helped add to the night’s variety.

This weekend, Avent and Monie didn’t just raise funds – they raised the roof.  This reunion is definitely worthwhile, and with any luck we’ll get the chance to see them again: perhaps on the TV screen, as well as at our local theatre.

Gill Kirk