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Martin White Presents... Accordions Of The Gods – Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Nione Meakin

This imaginative, charming show has many moments to cherish but is let down by the variable quality of its execution.

White, a man who seems to bubble with a benign madness, shares the story of how he acquired his accordion in the form of a sweaty, brilliantly unhinged ballad that brings to mind a busking Kurt Weill.

As an attention-grabbing opener, it would be difficult to top and it establishes the basis for an hour of squeeze-box-themed historical silliness in which White casts a sinister shadow over this naturally comical instrument.

 It's not been reported in the media, but White thinks the accordion can be blamed for the decline of the common bumblebee, and demonstrates how in a deliciously childish song studded with awful rhyming couplets. Likewise, if you think you've heard all the conspiracy theories in existence about September  11, the assassination of JFK and the moon landings, think again – he delivers more fuel for the fire. 

White pretty much only has the one joke, but the deliberate repetition of it serves him well, building the sense of ridiculousness and working the audience up into a mildly hysterical state. The enforced tension of waiting for a PowerPoint slide to load adds to the build-up. Even though you know quite well what the eventual gag is going to be, White sets them up well each time, before knocking them down with an apologetic grimace. 

Given the work that has obviously gone into this show and White's talents as a songwriter, his lack of confidence in it is curious. He seems under-rehearsed and will often stumble over the order of his material or register frustration at mistimed slides with an understandable, but distinctly uncool, splutter of fury.

He abandons the microphone after the first song which makes the lovely detail of his musical numbers difficult to hear. And having the projection screen to one side of the stage does no favours to those of us not sitting directly opposite. Singularly, these points could be overlooked but when added up, they cost the show a star.

Against a backdrop of Fringe comedy that often treads a very familiar path, White's show is a refreshing blast of eccentricity, which, if you can overlook the flaws, is something of a delight.

Review date: 19 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

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