Scott Agnew @ Gilded Balloon, Counting House
Four years since his last Fringe show, Scott Agnew returns to Edinburgh with an excellent hour
Depraved and hilarious tales of the underground gay scene in Glasgow and London make up a satisfying chunk of I've Snapped My Banjo String, Let's Just Talk. Whereas many comics cultivate an absurdly dysfunctional persona, Agnew's shame-filled accounts have a brutality which, coupled with a stage presence swinging between charm and nervousness, is unnervingly authentic.
Bouncing from one drug and booze-fuelled disaster to another, he takes us to places few people would willingly enter. As Agnew tells us of his attempts to extricate himself from his exotic mistakes, he shows a ruthless ability to skewer his own and other people's weakness with surgical precision. Details of his sexual escapades, including a novel use for a St Andrew's cross and a fish tank, keep the atmosphere excruciatingly tense, which lets his down-to-earth frankness amplify the relief as the punchline hits. A revelation over tea and madeira cake with his grandfather drags up coal-black laughs with its searing honesty. It's this blazing political anger, carefully hidden within the hedonism, which elevates the show above voyeurism.