James Dowdeswell: Wine
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
After a year's hiatus James Dowdeswell is back at the Fringe with an hilarious new show where he throws a banana skin under the pretentious world of wine.
Growing up in a West Country pub James saw Scrumpy as the order of the day. But during a family road-trip through the vineyards of Burgundy everything changed.
During this tale of an innocent abroad, you‚ll hear about such mysteries as the joy of the spittoon, Jasper's ferret and The Wine Lake. He may not look the type, but James loves wine; he's cracked its secrets
and is giving it back to the people - with a screw top.
James Dowdeswell loves wine, and this is a show all about that love. And despite an early gag defining wine as red or white, he does know his stuff.
The first part of the show is amiable, introducing us to his family and why he is a wine fan. It shows Dowdeswell’s natural talent at storytelling, particularly when he is painting a picture of his family’s pub.
He then tells us of wine tasting in France with his father, and it this point the show shifts focus to become more a lecture on wine and less a comedy routine. But it does remainfunny and Dowdeswell finds some novel ways of gagging up his educational material. Likening wine to Blind Date and football, for instance.
However, at times you can escape the feeling Dowdeswell is like a schoolteacher trying to be cool and reach the rough kids - plus he could have afforded to cover the subject in a little more depth.
But if you are patient you will not only learn the difference between an chablis and a chardonnay but be rewarded with an hilarious tale of gatecrashing the wine awards with his new, eccentric friend Tim.
Although the show builds in intensity, Dowdeswell himself seems to stay on one level in his performance. But a small audience and an early night can, perhaps, be blamed for this. A bigger audience could well raise the roof of the cave, particularly in the final 15 minutes.
Reviewed byRosie Carnahan