Roman Fraden @ Gilded Balloon

A coming out show that'll make you wish you'd stayed in

Review by Ben Venables | 21 Aug 2018
  • Roman Fraden

Roman Fraden is a former figure skating champion and he's here to tell us about his unusual background, as well as his sexual awakening at the sight of a cat-suited cock. What's more, he'll do so through his combined talents for dance, music and storytelling.

There's no doubt that what Fraden is meant to be doing tonight is industrially sabotaged by the room he's in. And it'd be wrong not to mention it. The space is too cramped for him to effectively showcase his dance moves and there's a bloody racket intruding in from a nearby show.

Yet despite the caveats, despite that he can't help the elements thrown at him, the real problem is this show is a pick 'n mix of underdeveloped ideas. His anecdotes about Tonya Harding and Sting remain too slight as to warrant him mentioning them; the songs lack both lyrical sharpness and oomph, and the hallucinogenic journey that brackets the whole thing is such a write off it'd be a waste of time to analyse why. 

He struggles to tread the line in getting the tone right: his performance has a child-like charm but often comes across as childish. There's a joke about face-lifts, which may have satirical intent, or is perhaps just silly, but seems more like your worst nephew showing you that he can wriggle his ears. 

Fraden does have more skill than his own hour demonstrates. When he tells his story, when he's perhaps most himself, his soft and gentle delivery is compelling. His observations also teeter on intrigue; one about the peculiar anti-climatic feeling that can follow bringing someone to orgasm. But he breaks any spell he might create, especially with one particular misguided gag – or rather a curious view – that anal sex feels like doing a poo. Fucking hell.

Tonight, the laughter is polite, but a paid-up audience at a comedy show really shouldn't be the ones doing the humouring.

Roman Fraden: Back in the Closet, Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row House (Balcony), until 27th Aug, 11:30pm, £8-10

Scroll on to read more of The Skinny's 2018 Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviews; click here for a round-up of all the best reviews from this year's comedy and theatre programmes