Nick Revell: BrokenDreamCatcher | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Nick Revell: BrokenDreamCatcher

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

A preview of some of the tales airing in his Radio 4 series next month, Nick Revell's latest storytelling hour is magical realism for the fake news, ayahuasca-imbibing era.

Initially set in a pseudy North London realm where shamen proliferate like Tesco Metros, Revell contrasts his strong Yorkshire roots - where his rugby talent and ability to take a punch earned him masculine acceptance - with the indulged middle-class, liberal bubble of gentrified nonsense he now inhabits.

The Native American dreamcatcher in his living room was never more than decorative, until Gwyneth Paltrow joined his social circle. Initially sceptical of the vagina-steaming Hollywood star, Paltrow's proficiency in the sports round of the local pub quiz earns Revell's respect and he takes her advice on how to maintain his folk art, the better to protect him from bad dreams.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has gone missing, only for reports to emerge of his buttocks reappearing, detached, on Berlin's gay scene. Heavy ladling the irony onto the Russian president's macho, bare-chested public image, Revell channels the satirical Nikolai Gogol story The Nose to establish the buttocks' independence, initially suggesting that the CIA might be giving the Kremlin a taste of their own trolling.

But as an International Incident threatens between Russia and Germany, Reading Between the Lines of the reports awakens memories in Revell of the occasion he first met Putin, and when, later, he introduced both him and Angela Merkel to some of Radio 4's most enduring output. 

At the core of this absorbing and deadpan-delivered daftness, is an account of how the comic and the future president once fought together and bonded during a clandestine tournament of martial art machismo in the Arctic Circle, their bromance cemented over vodka, hallucinogenic reindeer urine and antagonism of the local wildlife.

With devil in the detail, Revell marvellously evokes Putin's blend of strongman arrogance, casually indifferent ruthlessness and preening self-importance, with a portrait that's incredible, but, rogue buttocks and Merkel nightclubbing notwithstanding, not so far-fetched it's entirely beyond the limits of possibility.

As in his encounters with Paltrow, which escalate into a battle to save the fragile minds of vulnerable Londoners, real phenomena are satirically stretched but never snapped beyond the point it lifts you out of the story. 

Revell keeps you on board with an expertly paced rhythm of delivery, satirical little asides and an underlying advocacy of gay rights and care for mental health. 

Rather wonderfully, his own role in the shaping of massive world events is related without major grandstanding or even acknowledgement that this is anything out of the ordinary, his sanity serene despite the madness going on all around him.

Rich and strange, you can certainly see this becoming a prolific storytelling groove for him.

Review date: 22 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Stand 3 and 4

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