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Carlo Ritchie uncovers romantic tales of success and failure in 'Cooking For No One'

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Cooking For No One is the solo show from one half of the acclaimed improv duo The Bear Pack, Carlo Ritchie. In this engrossing and rib-tickling hour of storytelling, Ritchie steps out on his own to great success.
 
Ritchie is an articulate gentleman, whose chief specialty as a solo performer is spinning an entertaining yarn. That much is clear from the outset, Ritchie opening with an utterly ridiculous and absurdly-detailed anecdote. Comedy nerds may identify Ritchie’s opening gambit as a means of reading the room before getting stuck into the meat of Cooking For No One. It’s a sound strategy and, as much as it likely helps Ritchie, it sets the tone for the audience nicely too.
 
While Cooking For No One darts around a bit, the show boasts an overarching story to keep audiences hooked. It helps that it’s a true-to-life tale, too, Ritchie laying bare the ways he’s rolled the dice on romance, even revisiting paranoia-inducing maladies for the crowd’s amusement.
 
And through it all, Ritchie exudes charm – charm enough to, at one point, usher in a long interval of silence. It’s played for laughs, of course, but one has to wonder how many performers could get away with such a potentially momentum-killing segment. It speaks to Ritchie’s talents that the interlude necessitates no recovery – he’s just able to keep the evening rolling on as normal. As for Ritchie’s comedic style, he has this expert knack of leading his audience to a bleak place, before offering sweet relief, extracting light and plentiful laughs from the darkness.
 
Here’s hoping Ritchie has plans for some kind of follow-up at the festival next year, because, as Cooking For No One demonstrates, he has serious talent to burn as a solo performer.
 
By Nick Mason