Fringe Comedy Reviews: John Robins & Keith Farnan

Feature by Ben Venables | 14 Aug 2015

Anonymity is compromised in John Robins' Speakeasy [★★★★☆]. When his girlfriend goes away for the best part of a month, Robins has planned an adventure of hijinks with the lads. Unfortunately the lads have all grown up and his girlfriend has inadvertently accessed his internet history. Yet this isn't just about the embarrassment of that scenario. As with previous show Where is My Mind?, Robins is pre-occupied with ideas of authenticity and the division between our actual identity and real events when compared to what we project onto our memory and the internet. It doesn't quite have the nostalgic tug or unity of the former show with some of the sequences in this story uneven. But with the atmosphere and laughter he creates through his enthusiastic yet wry delivery, he easily gets away with this.

The fear of snooping also provides some of the basis for Keith Farnan's Anonymous [★★★☆☆]. He find the willingness of friends to share highly personal information especially troubling: almost as if we are all tempting fate when we share, say, the picture of a baby scan while a pregnancy is still in a critical phase. This brings about the peculiar event of someone 'liking' the status update of a miscarriage. It's a clever show though, with a greater depth of ideas than just anxieties and mild paranoia about the sharing of our data: 'how companies play on our natural anxieties and target us' is probably a more accurate description. At one point Farnan discusses an abandoned idea offered to him to extract data from the audience during the show. While not following this up is probably for the best from a legal perspective, Farnan is perhaps a little too down-to-earth for his own good, with the show lacking a little from some sort of set-piece or flourish. But nonetheless it's exactly the kind of solid and intelligent show we'd expect from Farnan and a theme he could develop further.

John Robins: Speakeasy, Assembly George Square Studios, until 30 Aug (not 17), 8pm, £10-12

Keith Farnan: Anonymous, Underbelly Cowgate, until 30 Aug (various dates), 6pm, £10-11