Nick Mohammed: 4uarters
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
4uarters, a four-piece-one-man character sketch show written and performed by Nick Mohammed, heralds his return to the Festival and builds upon the success of his 2006 show The Forer Factor:
Nick Mohammed is clearly going to be a major talent, but he hasn’t yet found a vehicle that is funny, rather than impressive. Often in 4uarters do you find yourself in awe of his abilities, but rarely do you find yourself actually laughing
There’s one scene, however, that’s absolutely brilliant. He’s a loans clerk with no clue about finance, firing off random, personal and irrelevant questions to the embarrassed and bewildered young couple – played by Anna Crilly and Colin Hoult – who seek his help. The confusion and cross-talk is beautifully executed, and the weird atmosphere that pervades the whole uncomfortable situation subtly exploited for laughs. It’s properly hilarious – but sadly only about ten minutes of the whole show.
Mohammed’s second-best character is another awkward one, an estate agent showing an unseen couple around a house in a dodgy area, flirting unapologetically but inefficiently with the woman. Like a presenter of some late-night rip-off TV phone-in, he talks relentlessly and desperately to fill any silence, no matter what nonsense actually comes out. The slow revelations about the rough neighbourhood provide a smattering of good lines, and his pin-sharp mimes show a keen sense of timing, but the overall pace is too slow.
Another creation is a TV anthropologist-cum-naturalist, for whom Mohammed has captured precisely the timbre, intonations and rhythms of every travel-channel David Attenborough wannabe. But there’s little beyond it than that faithful recreation.
Finally, we come to the weakest character, but the one given the lion’s share of the hour: an inept anger management tutor. His unfocussed persona is established very quickly, but we go through a series of sluggish exercises to reinforce it. Weak laughs are spaced so agonisingly far apart that this over-long sketch quickly becomes frustrating.
Totting up, Mohammed’s 4uarters comprise one four-star sketch, one three, and two twos, algebraically making it a two-and-three-quarter-star show - even if Mohammed himself is a four-star performer.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett