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Damien Crow: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall

It's a bold, perhaps foolhardy, move to write an hour for a character that arguably might only have a 20 minute lifespan in the hands of other performers. The audacity of the attempt is enough to give this show the benefit of the doubt, and, although patchy, this hour throws up some regular chuckles.

Damien (real name Clarence) is a middle-class goth from a loving family comprising of his dad and his hot stepmum, who he clearly fancies but protests too much that he does not. This is reason enough for him to rebel and strike out as an individual by joining a cult of people who all dress the same.

Trying a little too hard to be dark, moody and mean (and constantly undermined by his tecchie), Damien takes us through his life as a committed goth, referring to his journal on a number of occasions to pour out teen angst and do his best to disseminate the message of darkness, at one point using an adaptation of The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black to do so.

It’s suggested that Damien is more likely to cut cake than himself, but he is shown to have a short fuse, ranting furiously about how not bothered he was to be excluded from a party of a popular girl at school, for example. His ire builds and can only be assuaged by a disco track that his therapist has programmed to respond to.

The tonal change this involves is much needed, as are the various other departures that are employed (pictures of him at a family funeral smiling broadly is one such effective example) because Chris Forbes isn’t quite a good enough actor to carry Damien off without them.  Arguably no one can susstain one character over this length of time, unless you a character with a more accessible back story, like Al Murray for example.

Of course, Forbes is right to throw as much variety at this incarnation as he can, but he overstretches himself with his musical direction at the end. As a goth, of course, he would naturally want to start a band and deciding on the accordion as his instrument of choice is a fun wheeze. However, it doesn’t lead anywhere comedically rewarding. He tries for incongruity of a goth playing shanties, but he might have done equally as well with, say, an accordion interpretation of a Sisters of Mercy tune.

Review date: 21 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Assembly Rooms

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