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Elis James: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julia Chamberlain

This is as riotous an hour as you’re going to get in Edinburgh, an absolute cracker of an hour’s stand-up storytelling.

Elis James compered his way in for a minute or two and then launched himself into a hootingly funny story of last year’s show and the utter debacle of the  night he had the reviewers in.  Blessed with a mellifluous voice, he also has great physical poise which makes him a compelling performer to watch, particularly as he was unafraid of eye contact with individual audience members, he riveted the attention of the room and never faltered.

The stories are a mixture of ‘could happen to anyone’ and the very particular, but the were all seamlessly knit together and made for a cosy show. The plentiful autobiographical content is entertainingly revelatory – he’s a hoarder, a timid fighter, a polite smart mouth and a superb wedding guest.

The stories are simple, credible and delivered with a joy in language that lifts them far above the realm of the pub raconteur; this is an enhanced version of everyday life.

Among the anecdotes and belly laughs, there are moments of introspection, but made with such a light touch that it doesn’t feel like a self-conscious festival bolt-on, they add depth and colour to the show. He picks up on universal fears such as ‘Adult Impostor Syndrome’  and wondering whether anyone is ever really grown up enough to be a parent.

The great thing about James is he’s got a great sense of play and exuberance, but there’s a good measure of mature self assurance, not (just) cockiness that makes this a fully rounded and satisfying show.

Review date: 12 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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