Judi Dench Broke My Heart

Sat 6th – Mon 8th August 2016

reviews

Lizzie Buckman

at 11:14 on 9th Aug 2016

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On a trip to the theatre suspension of disbelief is necessary, but a whole lot more is necessary to believe Luke Kempner’s far-fetched take of romance, heartbreak and The Chase with Dame Judi Dench. Kempner is an impressionist by trade, and this routine incorporates impressions, story-telling, stand-up and even a bit of musical theatre. The premise of the set is that at his and Judi Dench’s all-star wedding (at which Andy Murray and Tom Daley are groomsmen, and the bridesmaids are Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins) a number of minor celebrities utter the fatal cry of ‘I object’.

As an impressionist, Kempner plays every single part in this buoyant and weird tale. Most of his impressions are excellent, but unfortunately a few of the minor celebrities he impersonate remaine a bit of an in-joke with Kempner and one or two of the audience members who happen to watch Sunday Brunch regularly enough to identify its presenter. His portrayal of Andy Murray as an awkward teller of terrible puns was one of the highlights of the set, along with Jeremy Kyle appearing as an overcompensating alpha male figure repeatedly fist pumping and hip thrusting. There are a few moments when the pace falls a little flat, short interludes between scenes providing a pause in which it is uncertain whether we applaud or wait. More generally though this is a refreshingly slick show into which Kempner has added a touch of the theatrical, utilising snappy music and lighting changes selectively and effectively.

Kempner’s knack for theatrical touches may originate from the fact that he is trained in musical theatre, and this stand-up set doubles up as a tongue-in-cheek extended audition for 'Les Miserables' (which he only seems a little bit bitter about not starring in). Kempner thankfully refrains from overindulging in musical hits until a finale which sees each of the characters he has introduced over the hour taking a different part to ‘One Day More’, and Kempner singing in harmony with himself, victoriously waving an imaginary French flag. It is a fittingly ridiculous ending for this triumphant show.

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Una O'Sullivan

at 11:26 on 9th Aug 2016

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‘Judi Dench Broke My Heart’ is a riotous smorgasbord of celebrity impressions. Luke Kempner is a man with a colourful past— accomplished impressionist, musical theatre aficionado, and former-fiancé of Dame Judi Dench. In this hour-long comedy saga, he uses all three to make a coherent chronicle of the day of his wedding with Judi.

Using popular culture as a rich well of source material, Kempner plays the field of actors, famous sportspeople, and poor-quality television stars. Some of the characters he chose to portray are unknown by some of the audience, yet the laughter of those who’d seen these ITV breakfast folk, in conjunction with Kempner’s amusing voices, allows the show to power through. Well-chosen gestures and tics allow characters such as Andy Murray (constantly stroking his beard) and Tom Daley (always on his phone) to become easily recognisable and reliably funny staples of the wedding. Other characters are more dynamic, particularly Jeremy Kyle with his frequent, uncalled-for pelvic thrusts.

Kempner juxtaposes this hard-boiled celebrity satire with musical theatre (referred to by Kempner’s friends as “opera gay shit”), in a way which is refreshing and gracefully done. The entire show is essentially a guise for Kempner’s attempts to get cast in 'Les Miserables', and through his passionate singing and dexterous ability to work his musical ambitions into every scenario, he manages to make the audience, and all the characters he impersonates, believe in his abilities too.

The technical aspects of this show are smooth and professional, with lighting changes and musical backgrounds used to augment the comedic effects in ways which are as effective as his jokes. The classic audience participation is invoked a couple of times too, and the show rarely departs from the tried and true methods of comic delivery. That said, it does not need to, with fun, likeable impressions filling the stage with a multifarious cast of characters.

All in all, Kempner’s Fringe show is a fantastically funny tale of the treacherous path to celebrity marriage, and is worth a watch.

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