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Abandoman: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Marissa Burgess

There can't be many shows that end with more people on the stage than left in the audience but then there are not many shows where the audience provide the characters in the story. In short: there are not many shows like Abandoman's.

Abandoman exploded onto the comedy scene a few years ago with an act that combines improv with hip hop. It's a gimmick that seems to work with any crowd, from a mixed festival bill to the notoriously rowdy Late 'n' Live. People everywhere, sober or sozzled, are blown away by the experience, charmed by the skill involved in improvising an entire show as well as being carried along by the bombastic tunes.

This show is no exception. In the queue outside we're asked to put on name badges as an early warning tthat there's going to be some interaction. Once inside those badges are use to create an introduction, with frontmant Rob Broderick explaining how he got into the music game.

With the backing of keyboardist/box of tricks operator Grundel (stepping in for usual so-star James Hancox), Broderick creates a series of raps over the hour, each of which is subtlety different: there's a rave number, an Emenem-esque track, a romantic one and his party trick in which he improvises a rap from items the audience hold aloft. My bottle of water was somewhat mundane in comparison to the bag of carrots the man next to me held aloft and someone's empty Fox's biscuit tin.

Of course the delight here is in the unexpected, however contrived the formula is, individual nights will have their own peculiarities. Highlights of ours were the perplexed look on the face of the bemused 16-year-old struggling to work out his age in the year 2000, the inadvertent discovery of a love triangle on the front row – one girl, her ex-boyfriend and his new boyfriend – and the slightly awkward looking, but clearly delighted, middle-aged man who turned out to be surprisingly good at duetting. Elsewhere a request for strange rules in the workplace was met with: 'Grow a beard in your own time'.

There always the danger that improv on its own can get dull, but the throbbing bass and music does much for the energy in the room and Broderick doesn't let it drop for a second. It's a surprise he can get to sleep after a gig the adrenaline that must be pumping through his system. You also sense that people in the crowd have seen him before, gleefully setting him the challenge of rhyming tricky words, tonight 'paprika' was one guy's drug of choice. Great stuff.

Review date: 24 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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