Jack Docherty @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Festival veteran Jack Docherty stages some touching, bittersweet scenes in new storytelling show Nothing But

Review by Emma Sullivan | 25 Aug 2021
  • Jack Docherty

Jack Docherty’s much anticipated return to the Edinburgh Fringe really is something special: a beautifully written, expertly constructed and deeply engrossing piece of comic storytelling. It’s a romcom which deconstructs the genre, steeped in allusions to films (Before Sunrise, When Harry Met Sally, and the films of Richard Curtis and Hal Hartley all get a nod); those narratives that play such a big part in shaping our fantasy lives. And Docherty’s semi-autobiographical tale is partly a cautionary one, warning against the harm such fantasies can do. 

At the heart of Nothing But is a story about a fleeting, perfect encounter at the Fringe and a lost romance which comes to haunt his life. It’s his daughter who delivers the most scathing judgement on this yearning for his lost dream girl, and she condemns his coveted memories of that encounter as little more than adolescent fantasy – while his real life and relationships were left uncherished. 

Despite the melancholy, the story is playfully told with a complex time scheme that flits between key moments. From an early birthday party disaster to a much later night out, Docherty’s tales all end in humiliation for the ex-Absolutely member. One particular highlight is where he regales an aftershow party with a younger, more successful comedian and two female fans. Here we see Docherty’s drunken cogitations – daring to wonder if he’s in with a chance, before the realisation dawns that he’s been fobbed off with ketamine so the others can have a threesome.

For all the disappointment, however, this very Scottish romcom has a happy ending of sorts. One that, despite its lack of sentiment, has a real sweetness. There’s sweetness too in its gesture as a gift – a love letter to the Fringe, all the more touching given the precarity of this year.

Jack Doherty: Nothing But, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wine Bar), until 29 Aug, returns only. Reviewed 21 Aug.