Review: Dara O Briain, York Barbican

Delivering laughs at a ‘unhesitating, breakneck gallop’ – Dara O Briain
9 Nov 2015 @ 1.45 pm
| News

Dara O Briain: Crowd Tickler

York Barbican

Nov 7, 2015

Barbican website

Dara O Briain is a man who likes to ask the big questions. We’ve all seen him on TV, talking maths with Marcus du Sautoy, astronomy with Brian Cox, and quantum physics with Stephen Hawking.

So I’m delighted to report that, in his evening at the Barbican, he didn’t shy away from tackling the really important stuff.

What’s the sudden fascination with pulled pork? What’s wrong with putting your elbows on the table?

And why, York, why is there so much fudge for sale in Shambles?

If you’ve only seen Dara O’Briain sitting sedately behind his desk on Mock The Week, it comes as a considerable surprise to find how physical his performance can be.

He acts out everything, from clinging to a tree in the rapids of the Zambezi (when a trip for Comic Relief went hideously wrong), to twirling an imaginary hula hoop, to the post-coital state of the male brain.

His usual measured, TV-friendly delivery is abandoned for an unhesitating, breakneck gallop that leaves you no time to recover from one laugh before the next is upon you. He is merciless.

Sheep farmer cop

O Briain is well known for engaging his audience in conversation, so I was deeply disappointed that he didn’t get far enough along the row to talk to me.

He had other members of the front row assist him, Consequences-style, in the creation of a new Norwegian TV detective show, which turned out to involve a flawed female detective deep undercover as a sheep farmer, and a torturer whose weapon of choice was a microwave oven.

He remembered something about every person he had spoken to, and thanked them individually at the end of the show.

It’s three years since Dara O’Briain has been to York. A tour, he explained, is typically two years long, followed by a year of writing the next show.

Sadly, this means we will probably not see him again until 2018 – but at least that gives us all time to get our breath back, wipe our streaming eyes, and put heat rub on our aching muscles.


Wheelchair users, especially, should have no worries about attending shows at the Barbican.

There is level access from the street right through to the auditorium, without needing to use a special entrance.

The doors and corridors are amply wide, and there is plenty of room to manoeuvre into the wheelchair spaces without trapping your fellow audience members’ legs and feet.

There is also plenty of room for them to get round you and out to the bar at the interval. All wheelchair spaces are on the front row. The staff are unfailingly friendly and helpful.

There is a clean, well-stocked, accessible toilet next to the bar.