David Callaghan @ Just the Tonic, The Mash House

An ambitious hour, but not quite the treasure trove it seeks to be

Review by Paul Mitchell | 15 Aug 2018
  • David Callaghan

With just weeks to go before this year’s Fringe, comedian David Callaghan went missing without a trace. Organisers, suddenly left with a vacant venue slot, simply replaced the missing comic with a convenient namesake, an erstwhile TV and film director, 'best' known for directing the 1996 Taggart episode Dead Man’s Chest.

Thus begins a premise whereby Callaghan (playing, well, Callaghan) throws almost every stand-up trope into the mix (character, observational, surreal, wordplay, improv, resentment of previous reviews etc.). Pre-recorded sketches form the backbone of these, including charmingly amateurish doctored clips from the aforementioned Taggart episode, various characters which number a cold war era submarine captain with a weird U2 fetish, an alt-right hacker called Dankenstein – whose plot to bomb the venue proves ultimately successful – and, well, Thierry Henry (kinda).

One innovative aspect sees the audience log into a wi-fi network to collectively write left-leaning letters (because "sensory yurts" + "reclaimed barley" = socialism y’see) to try to demoralise and ultimately foil Dankenstein’s dastardly plan, though it is difficult to gauge how much input the audience actually have.

Callaghan assures us the whole thing is a meticulously-layered Brexit metaphor, but the reality is, the kitchen sink approach is bafflingly incoherent at times and throws up its fair share of misses. But there’s no doubting the effort Callaghan has gone to, and there are more than enough hits to keep it entertaining.


David Callaghan: Dead Man's Chest, Just the Tonic at The Mash House (The Attic), 2-25 Aug (not 13), 11.40am, £5/PWYW

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