Nick Mohammed: The Forer Factor

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

If this was Nick Mohammed's first Edinburgh hour I'd be happy to cut him a bit more slack, but it's not. Last year he won awards and this may have turned his head. Maybe a false sense of security ('I can do this, I've got an award that says so') made him concentrate on gimmicks and not writing. In a set of character sketches across the hour he gives us eight personalities, three of whom make repeat appearances. Unfortunately at no point are you thinking 'I wish he'd do that one again'. And they don't develop. The screechy voiced teenage girl (Asperger's? Kept in a cellar? Something's clearly up) on a quest for the lavatory doesn't know her boundaries and is invasive with the audience. 'She' doesn't have the charm to pull it off and there's nothing intrinsically funny about this socially awkward kid.

The gimmicky bit is personality analysis expert Bertrand Forer, who - wait for it - has been dead for years. The trick here is a pre-recorded set (sounding uncannily like old Woody Allen radio recordings) which Nick mimes to convincingly, capturing the gesture and body language of the posthumous self-appointed guru with some skill, and seeding the set with some clever reverses in which the present day slip and trip is cunningly foretold by the dead professor's monologue. When questionnaires are collected in from the select few in the audience, you know you haven't seen the last of Forer.

He gives us prerecords for naked ventriloquism (ie, barehanded no glove puppet) there's a reedy detective taken from the gentleman amateur school who repeatedly fails to draw his own conclusions, a rather good news report from a journalist who gets caught in the irrelevant details and a mimed set with a typewriter that comes alive and music escaping from a desk/biscuit tin/whatever every time the lid is opened. I know I'm meant to enter the imaginary world here, but it's been done before and better.

Nick works with broad brush strokes to create a pig-thick Northern racist teacher and some working class Herbert of a fisherman and gets a lot of fun from an orchestral conductor and a skilful soundtrack. It's early in the run, so I'm sure some of the stridency of the performance will calm down and the more subtle effect should highlight the humorous intent.

Julia Chamberlain

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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