The Stockholm Sydrome at the 2010 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

It was, I think, Rich Hall who first said that there was a fine line between his stand-up shows and a hostage situation. But this mixed bill is named not because of the sympathy the audience will cultivate for their captors, but for the more prosaic reason that they’re all from Sweden, dipping a tentative toe into the British stand-up circuit. And if you’re expecting the usual clichés about Ikea, Abba and Volvos, go elsewhere.

Though I say ‘audience’, this particular afternoon show was performed to the acts from the previous show and me. That’s fringe comedy for you…

Tobias Persson had some good points, well made, though he’s unlikely to make you think or laugh quite so much as he probably hopes. Pouring scorn on Lithuania’s recent move to outlaw the promotion of homosexuality, or on new bands that proclaim themselves ‘the new Beatles’ without going to any of the bother of the Fab Four’s tough musical apprenticeship are thoughts that are likely to strike a chord, and they are concisely, effectively put.

Aron Flam, performing only for the second time ever in English, offered an aridly dry set, largely influenced by his Jewish upbringing. Though patchy, he was largely enjoyable, thought he lack of belly laughs seemed to throw him off, and he ended up doubting his set more than we did. His material does need some putting in order, that’s true, but he has an engaging attitude that sees him through.

Fredrick Andersson appears on the Swedish version of Balls Of Steel, and that prankstery sense of humour clearly appeals to him, as he delights in recounting anecdotes of his tomfoolery. Apparently obsessed by midgets, his enjoyable yarns conjure up some silly imagery, delivered with an entertaining energy.

Agneta Wallin has a more prickly sense of humour, taking delight in makingbarbed comment on sexual and religious politics, playing with (and reinforcing) the image of all Swedish women as promiscuous or open-minded, depending on your point of view. It’s not always funny – and her extended bafflement constantly at being addressed as ‘darling’ in Britain was especially ill-formed – but her compulsion to be provoke is a definite asset.

Finally Lasse Nilsen, who bills himself as a ‘body illusionist’ – or mime, if you don’t mind the stigma. His set, which starts with a cunning visual gag, talks us through the years of training it took to learn how to walk against the imaginary wind. There’s not much to the banter, but the routine’s all about the physical set pieces, including a very effective demonstration of a boxing punch in slow motion. His big finale is a literal interpretive dance through Lionel Richie’s Hello, which may be technically adept, but it’s a comedy device that’s starting to feel old, having long been mastered by the likes of Lee Evans with Bohemian Rhapsody and David Armand with Torn. He says Hello, I say goodbye...

Review date: 23 May 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton The Temple

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