The show is a dense, bizarre neo-metaphysical noir from the mind of Watchmen’s Alan Moore that perplexes, frustrates and entertains in equal proportions. Set in Northampton, Moore’s market town home in which he set his massive book Jerusalem, a shock-haired and stripey-jumpered adult Dennis The Menace lookalike played by Tom Burke is an apparent investigator, looking for a stolen Maltese Cross and a man who has killed a fruit trader’s wife. As his investigations continue, so the lurid underworld of Northampton opens up: we meet voodoo drug dealers, vampiric morgue attendants, lightning bolt helmeted superheroes, child Sam Spades, and some sinister dead TV comics from the 1970s.
Burke’s identity alters throughout to suit his needs, until he reveals he’s actually an exit technician or hitman, who helps a journalist who awakes from a coma following a choking sex game that went wrong. This is not mainstream stuff – but it is a rich, metatextual and surreal shaggy dog story that poses more questions than it answers, with deft, funny dialogue about pineapple murder weapons, and layered set designs.
Taxi drivers discuss about whether we all live in a simulation within a simulation, a burned-down working men’s club seems to be a gateway to hell, and Moore himself is a crescent moon-headed godlike figure invading dreams. It’s challenging but also engaging, and often very funny, Burke’s gumshoe proving an anchor amidst the neon Northampton. Posters for video games, missing baboons and a constant stream of glimpsed newspaper headlines point at a richer world of which The Show barely seems to scrape the surface.
Its low budget adds charm and daring, and bursts with Moore’s perennial ideas – though it meanders, Christopher Fairbanks’ foul-mouthed gangster injects some drama into the sort of climax. Hard to define, which is just what Moore would want: the creator of graphic novel sensations The Killing Joke, V For Vendetta and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen has fashioned a new distinctly Middle England celluloid universe, peppered with his philosophical musings. Die-hard fans of his work will lap it up.
Dir: Mitch Jenkins (15, 115 mins)
Released via Video On Demand on Mon 18 Oct
words KEIRON SELF
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