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Andrew Doyle: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Jay Richardson

Andrew Doyle is still settling on and refining his style, reining in the blanket obscenity of last year’s Crash Course In Depravity for a more mainstream, scattergun delivery of random bitching.

The heart of this show however, feels like an idea abandoned. Touching lightly on the guilt and awkwardness of being a gay Catholic teaching at a fee-paying school, he relates the time he took a walk on the coast and ended up sinking in mud. The scene is set for an account of his life flashing before his eye, yet he’s cynical about such a trite device.

Unfortunately, the one he chooses instead isn’t much better. Having asked the audience to speculate on their neighbours’ perversions, he seeks to incorporate four of them into an improvised, free-flowing ramble of stand-up. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s essentially a long-form version of Set List, also playing in this same venue. His undoubted charm and the contrived, clunking way he works the ideas in, can’t rescue it from failure.

That’s a pity, as from the outset Doyle creates an engaging communal spirit in the room, keeping little pockets of banter with the crowd bubbling away. He’s enjoyably self-serving and inconsistent, requesting everyone pray with him and denouncing reality television as cruel, then blurting horrendous things about the Queen and Ulrika Jonsson, simply for the delight in transgressing a line.

There’s a bad taste depiction of public schoolboy masturbation and he flourishes in his puckish role as a corruptor of innocent minds. What’s more, he can appreciate the fashionable comedic meta-narrative employed by the thugs who once gave him a sound kicking.

Occasionally, he offers a glimpse of the fat, unhappy child he once was. But it’s a thread that’s never really developed and he falls back on customary comedic staples, like accidentally sending a sex text to a family member, the topper gag almost as routine as the setup. In short, this is all a bit of a mess and tellingly, we never do learn how he extricated himself from the mud.

Review date: 25 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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