Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: In Character
A line-up of 2016’s character comics dishes out a variety of personas.
From the offset, one is not quite sure what to think of Daniel Nils Roberts’ Honey [★★★]; by the end, certainty seems a laughable standard to yearn for. Discerning audiences might notice most of his sketches (all) border on the slightly tangential (completely irrelevant). Undoubtedly, he is an exceptionally versatile actor, but not even whimsy can account for the manner in which Honey culminates – in a yogurt-smattered stage, a pile of jigsaw pieces and an audience significantly less bemused than perplexed.
That said, individual sketches are impeccably scripted and performed, complemented by a snazzy PowerPoint that only adds flavour. A crowd favourite is the hedonistic June, a dulcet-toned romance novelist with a bleached-blonde Dolly Parton hairdo who reads extracts from her novels that exude wonderfully tawdry hyperbole. A perky UNICEF rep and charismatic Christian fitness guide also feature in the ‘hot bath of character’ that we are promised, and they far from disappoint.
Book your tickets to see Steen Raskopoulos now. You Know The Drill [★★★★], his superbly soundtracked, wildly ambitious Fringe set is so on point, it practically relegates him to the status of sketch artist demigod.
Raskopoulos dives right in as an authoritative drill sergeant, readying the audience for a flux of novel characters: a ululating Greek orthodox priest and a retired heart surgeon with workplace-induced PTSD, amongst others. The set is so heavily reliant on participative audiences that Raskopoulos practically leaves the fate of his show to his viewers; a phenomenal risk, but one that seems to pay off with a degree of audience investment that any performing artist would kill to achieve.
The acerbic alter ego of comedian Alexis Dubus, Marcel Lucont is also back in business, packing in that trademark Frenchman panache with his semi-improvised Whine List [★★★★]. What he conveys with the mere twitch of an eyebrow speaks of a character unsullied by rookie inconsistencies; every wag of the finger and wearied eye-roll elicits giggles. Throughout the show, Lucont surveys the room with a glare that is somehow simultaneously bored and penetrative.
The show proceeds with his baritone delivering pompous opinions on audience members’ lives, all the while swirling a glass of vin rouge that seems to get him through the night. An unexpected deviation is a musical improv bit that features some incredible ad-libbing. For someone so evidently capable of thinking on his feet, Lucont plays it remarkably safe. One wishes he would step out of the brogues more often to dish out more of the withering sarcasm he has reserved for the know-it-all in the front row.