AHIR SHAH: CONTROL | London, Soho Theatre

Following a smash hit month at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe, Ahir Shah brings his latest megawatt theatrical political monologue to London. Control is as beautifully worded and biting as ever, but it’s also hilarious, with his supercharged energy matched with explosions of laughter, and leaves audiences reeling.

Shah spells it out from the start: he’s a British Asian with a lot to say about what it’s like to see centuries-old systemic racism come to the fore through recent global political movements like Brexit and Trump (and everything else). Shah is unapologetically angry — there is one moment when he just yells — but we hang on to every word because, as Shah realises, if we didn’t laugh we’d cry. And the impending geo-political apocalypse is inherently hilarious.

With a husky, plummy baritone, like a lads-on-tour Hindu Joanna Lumley, Shah commands the stage instantly and doesn’t let up. Comparisons with Brexit and his love life (around “the single market”), as well as the generation gulf between him and his parents, and his own tales of racist abuse, make for a heartfelt and personal hour. But Shah comes into his own when he attacks literally everything else: the British Empire, Corbynites, Angola-Portugal relations, and gone-off milk.

Shah’s brand of verbose, rapid-fire, meticulously researched comedy almost feels like watching a Shakespeare: fantastically  entertaining, but you get the feeling that the script, so carefully structured, has hidden depths you can’t get to appreciate in the moment. Live, Shah is an arena performer waiting to explode out of the four little walls of the Soho Theatre. Don’t wait for the script to be published; get out there, take a deep breath, and let Ahir Shah take control.

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