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Tom Craine: Crying On A Waltzer

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Nione Meakin

Imagine the pain of a break-up, then imagine your ex- publishes a book about it. Then imagine they decide to put on an Edinburgh Fringe show about the split, too. Wow. No wonder Tom Craine is sweating.

The ex in question is comic Nat Luurtsema, whom Craine continues to perform with in sketch group Jigsaw. But this isn't a Fleetwood Mac situation, apparently they get on well. It's just they're both staging separate show each telling the respective story of their break-up; 'It's HEALTHY!' Craine insists repeatedly, well aware he's convincing no one.

The pair were deeply, sickeningly in love, he says, and he was even on the brink of proposing, convinced he'd found his soulmate. Then things fell apart and he descended to the grungy depths of the heartbroken: onesies as daywear, an overly dependent relationship with pizza delivery companies and Christmas with the parents.

Unfortunately, it doesn't really get more interesting than that. Take away the weirdness afforded by the protagonists' jobs and this is your basic break-up story, told in a sweet and disappointingly measured manner. Craine seems a decent sort and his anecdotes are all at his own expense. From his botched marriage proposal to turning up at the Glastonbury Festival with a windbreak instead of a tent, he invites us to laugh at his idiocy but mainly has to make do with smiles. It's too gentle to be properly funny, too reasonable to be particularly compelling and doesn't shed any light either on their relationship nor on the broader subject of love.

It's easy to understand why he's chosen to use the break-up as material but it seems pointless to go down such an autobiographical route if one isn't really prepared to open up. Craine has decided not to see Luurtsema's show – as he points out, there may be a few discrepancies – but it will be interesting to see whether she has chosen to approach things in the same mild-mannered way as her ex. The plane journey home could be awkward.

Review date: 12 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

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