Chris Parker @ Assembly George Square

An energetic, relentlessly funny hour from Chris Parker

Review by Rob Young | 04 Aug 2019
  • Chris Parker

This energetic, relentlessly funny hour is dismissed by Chris Parker at around the halfway point as ‘just criticising straight guys’, but it’s so much more original and joyous than this. Clearly using his month at the Fringe as a substitute for a gym membership, Parker bounds around the stage with admirable elasticity, creating a fun, warm-hearted and – most importantly – hilarious performance. It is rare to see a Fringe show with such a high hit-rate of convincing gags, witty asides and inspired off-script moments (no surprise, given the Kiwi’s other racket in improv). 

The premise is admirably simple and relatable: in a culture that considers the All Blacks as Titans and generally places your ability to chase an egg above all else, it ain’t so easy being a gay, arts-inclined teenager. To confront this issue, Parker tops and tails the show with a catchy Broadway number, One of the Boys (sometimes pitchy, always endearing) and returns throughout to a parody of his old headmaster, complete with ill-fitting wig and a nervous, gay-avoidance stutter. These forays into sillier, more playful comedy allow Parker to shine, proving through his impressive acting to be a master of controlled chaos. 

A show rooted in adolescent experience cannot help being occasionally mawkish, and the curse of the ‘sad final section’ threatens to rear its teary head at the climax. Fortunately, Parker is savvy enough not to let the laughter disappear completely, and a concluding call-to-arms for the creative arts works because it is handled more conversationally. Sadly, the All Blacks won’t become the All Rainbows any time soon, but ‘Camp Binch’ attempts to redress the balance somewhat. It is an invigorating and charming hour, admirably unpretentious and consistently very, very funny.

Chris Parker: Camp Binch, Assembly George Square (Studio 5), until 25 Aug (not 14), 6.50pm, £8-£11