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Simon Brodkin: Still Not Himself – Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Julian Hall

Any punters who bought tickets on the strength of this character comedian’s appearances on Al Murray’s Multiple Personality Disorder may have high hopes of Brodkin, since he is one of the best things about that show. While that TV vehicle is disappointing this Fringe show is quite the opposite.

Adhering to the tried and tested ‘four characters, four quarters’ recipe Brodkin’s first ingredient is H-Bomb, aka Hugo, a misguided middle-class revolutionary whose lamentable grasp on international affairs makes Alan Parker: Urban Warrior, to whom Hugo must pay a debt, look like Che Guevara.

While Hugo is well-meaning but dim, Brodkin’s next character, footballer Jason Bent, is a devil barely disguised. Encapsulating all that is bad about English football, Bent’s money-grasping and anti-social behaviour are delightfully exposed at a press conference, orchestrated by having selected audience members with questions on cue cards.

There are those who have misgivings about Brodkin’s next character, Dr Omprakash, one that requires him to darken his face with make up. The main reservation here though is that he is the least funny of the four characters on show. However, the bar has been set high and there are still some choice moments, and what is clever about Omprakash is that he teases patients about their life-threatening conditions without ever seeming like the bad guy.

Finally it’s the turn of Brodkin’s best-known creation Lee ‘Nelsy’ Nelson, the almost loveable but ultimately villainous lad whose attitude to childcare and to women leave a lot to be desired. Aware that the spotlight is on the ‘Asbo generation’ Nelson tries to get some relative perspective on it using the carnage of the two world wars to vainly attempt to contrast his own generation’s misdemeanours. The clunky analogy brings out some dark humour from this double-edged creation.

In this case four quarters are short of making one whole five-star review. Nonetheless there’s heavenly stuff here, contained in one of the quickest and most enjoyable hours on the Fringe.

Review date: 18 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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