Phil Green: Four Weddings and a Breakdown | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Phil Green: Four Weddings and a Breakdown

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Walking on to a Sugababes tune, wearing a Sugababes T-shirt, standing in front of a projected image of the Sugababes, Phil Green presents a show that doesn’t really have anything to do with the Sugababes.

Still, you’ve got to have a theme, don’t you?

But as he makes clear, he’s pitching with a straight arm or whatever the expression is. This is a show that covers four weddings that he went to and a mental health crisis he had in 2011.

It's not the strongest narrative, a little unmoored in time, and never quite clear on how the events relate to each other chronologically or thematically. Maybe it would have made more sense for Green to deny the universal truth that a Fringe show must be in want of a structure, and instead present unadorned his material about comic differences between the generations, which is this show’s stealth raison d’etre.

Green feels like a storyteller who’s still looking for his viewpoint, but the closest he’s got so far is that he’s from Generation X, which he describes as the last generation to afford houses and the last generation to be unable to talk about mental health.  ‘At least we can have our breakdowns in the comfort of our own property,’ per my favourite line of the show.

The trafficking of generational stereotypes starts to wear thin after a while though, particularly when the incision is not really there. A very long act-out of baby boomers saying goodbye really rams home the impression that Green’s observations in this area are often slightly wide of the mark.

An approach like this could have used a comedian with more bite – Green’s closest analogue would be Stuart Goldsmith, and he brings a similar kids-TV-presenter-off-the-leash-sort of energy: a charming polish mixed with a palpable desire to please and an unwillingness to really swing for the fences.  A routine about Bond actors rests heavily on the most boring available opinions about the franchise (‘and if your favourite Bond is Timothy Dalton – you’re fucking crazy!’)

Ending the show in protracted fashion, determined to call back to every joke in the show, Green struggles for uplift. His message about mental health is intended to be an inspirational one, but the anecdote about a ‘non-wedding party’ he threw for his jilted friend is one of the most depressing things that’s ever been related on a London stage, just a huge bummer.

As a performer, there’s charisma there to be harnessed, but his reliance on tried-and-tested structures, gag formats and opinions is not serving him well in this show.

Review date: 5 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: PBH's Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth

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