Paul Currie: Release the Baboons @ Heroes at The Hive
The term 'Puppet sexually assaults pineapple' gets thrown around a lot during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but in this case it's absolutely accurate. You have just entered the world of Paul Currie, and from the moment he lets you sit down, you totally, and utterly, belong to him.
There are three main types of physical comedian. One is the mime, whose entire act is a two hour, body-stocking-stuffed apology to their parents. The second is a hilarious, slapstick weirdo who would be totally popular in cultures where they still sacrifice babies to Jerry Lewis. In Release the Baboons, Paul Currie has perfected the third: a man filled with so much comic energy, it has actually driven him hilariously fucking insane.
Dressed in a three-piece suit and armed with the kind of moustache they erect statues to in Valhalla, Currie makes a striking first impression. He's there on stage when you enter and he'll be damned if you'll have any say on where you sit. Feel safer at the back? Tough shit, there is no 'back', and there is certainly no 'safe .' You're trapped in a madman's dream, like that movie with Jennifer Lopez.
The show is a full-speed, screaming jog through his imagination, and it's an unpredictable, ridiculous and constantly funny journey. But make no mistake, you're not simply a passive observer – you're the confused kidnap victim helping your abductor ask for directions to the nearest deserted woodland. You're involved. An enabler to his madness, because HOLY SHIT there's audience participation like you've never experienced before. Many Fringe Communists HATE audience participation as, more often than not, it's done to gain a laugh from your discomfort or to play the embarrassed straight man to the delight of smug comic. But Paul is like a lovable John Hinckley, Jr... he does it all for you. You're neither the butt of his jokes, nor singled out for ridicule. You're the object of comical affection, and you'll love every minute of it.
His wild, loud explosions into your, safe, audiencey world are totally welcomed, expertly timed and surprisingly endearing. If he didn't enjoy what he does and care how you feel about it, it would be nowhere near as good.
There are very few out-and-out 'jokes' in his performance, more a collection of hilarious distractions. It's a compilation of 'things he finds funny,' and he wields them like the hammer of a well-dressed Norse God. It's not the tools he uses, but how he uses them that really sets him apart from other prop and physical comedians. That's the real beauty of his confident performance. In the hands of a lesser performer, a small rubber duck has limited comedy value. Under his crazy-eyed stare and intensely serious approach, that fucking duck is the greatest thing you'll see all Fringe.
Combining transfixing non-verbal communication with booming outbursts that can only be measured in metric units of Brian Blessed, he is mesmerising and often disturbingly seductive. I may own t-shirts that explain to strangers exactly how much I enjoy vagina, but even I can admit Currie was pretty sexy. Maybe it was the moustache. I'm not ashamed, this is HIS dream, not mine.
Currie is unique, outstandingly charasmatic and utterly original. Trousers get dropped, songs are gracefully accompanied by penis and a 90-year-old man is almost murdered by a loaf of bread. A new standard has been set for the Fringe.
Stay away if you have a wheat allergy.