I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with Louis Theroux. He has been making documentaries for many years now and although I have rarely made a point of seeking them out, I have seen a fair few of them. They all share certain qualities: an interest in slightly left-of-centre behaviour, or a particular social sub-set of people and a pretty stripped down feel: Louis and a cameraman doing a series of interviews accompanied by a voice over as he explains his interest in a particular topic and his journey to explore it a bit further.
There have been a few I have found very interesting – one on individuals who have been found guilty by insanity of serious crime and live their days institutionalised, one on dementia was very moving as was one that followed a number of patients who were facing terminal illness. There have also been a fair share of ones that were quite amusing – but notably, never cruel or mocking. Lately I have also heard him interviewed a few times on podcasts and find him fun and engaging to listen to: the sort of person you hope might be on the guest list at a dinner party.
So how, I wondered, would they take the man who is normally asking the questions and create a live stage show around him. The answer, it seemed was to try a bit of everything, throw it at the wall and see what stuck.
It was Louis Theroux’s first time in Perth and if he wondered what his reception was going to be like, he needn’t have worried. The crowd shouted and whooped for some time when he came on stage. There was a screen, which seemed to promise clips of shows and two stools, one for him and the other for an Australian personality to ask him questions.
It was the first ever show and I am guessing that as it completes it tour of Australia, it will loosen up and find its feet, but for me, the format and content were slightly at odds with each other.
The interview was framed with an opening monologue where Louis described what he was trying to achieve, then a series of clips ran and the personality asked him questions about his career interspersed with clips of people doing testimonials about him. There was a visit into the audience, some prepared questions from people who had shelled out for VIP tickets another monologue after the break, more clips from old shows and more testimonials. It was a weird mixture of This is Your Life, a clip show and theatre.
Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable night out but having listened to audio interviews with Theroux and people he knows better – like Adam Buxton – the interaction on the stage lacked a bit of the spontaneity that I have enjoyed so much in other interviews and I suspect those on the eastern states who will have seen the show later, will also feel the benefit of when it has had a bit of time to find its legs.