Steen Raskopoulos @ Underbelly Cowgate
Grandmaster Steen Raskopoulos ensures the pawns are the soul of the game
This is such a neat, smart, funny gig. Ostensibly a one man sketch show, Raskopoulos takes on the twin horrors of improv and audience participation and layers them up to build a genuinely marvellous thing – big laughs without cruelty. Without giving anything away, a range of situations are set up, all of which could lead to an hour of arse-clenching agony for an unwary audience. The twist is, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It requires an Indiana Jones style leap of faith, but the ground is good beneath your feet – there is nothing cheap or vicious about the gaps needing filled, and those who are brave enough become the stars of the show.
The show is silly, daring and skillfully done, but more importantly, it is generous – how often do you see a stand-up actively deflecting the limelight? There are occasional signs that some storylines might veer into twee or crass, but Raskopoulos shepherds them back like a winner of One Man And His Dog, bringing his show home in one warm, fluffy piece. Wonderful, inclusive stuff – you’d need a heart of stone not to go home glowing afterwards.