Raphael Wakefield: Wengerball | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jack Boyles
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Raphael Wakefield: Wengerball

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jack Boyles

This is a one-man production about football – and I don’t care about football. Yet I left the show thinking: ‘That was bloody great’.

Wengerball is about how artistic integrity and art can have a profound effect on you, inspire you and change the way you view life.

Raphael Wakefield talks about former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s philosophy towards football so eloquently and engagingly that by the end of it even I had an appreciation.

The manager’s story is through a disjointed flashback narrative, as a naive new boss comes to Emirates Stadium and is told of the ideology that once prevailed there.  

As it unfolds, Wakefield also breaks the fourth wall to fill the audience in on his own life. It’s expertly put-together, with top-class writing that should be easily adaptable for TV. 

He’s a brilliant actor, too, with exaggerated characters and stereotypes that puts him on equal footing with the likes of Harry Enfield. Using just his voice and gestures, he manages to breathe life into his comedic interpretations of the characters he plays.

The direction is as perfect as everything else, too, using stage and screens and with clear delineation between each persona. Not once did it get confusing, with Wakefield making it clear who he was portraying, even with just a reaction. 

Press footage or screenshots are shown on the TV when he introduces a club member, with added gags inserted into their bio to further help non-football fans understand their role in the story, be it a club member, chairman or manager of a rival team.  

The audience couldn’t get enough of it, some laughing long after a gag had finished. An absolute surprise to me, Wengerball is a brilliant show with Wakefield set for the Premiership of comedy. Surely with his talent, he’s going to go far, isn’t he?

Review date: 13 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Jack Boyles
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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