Moses Storm: Perfect Cult | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Moses Storm: Perfect Cult

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Of the hundreds of stories this festival, Moses Storm has one of the most intriguing. He was raised in isolation as part of a doomsday cult in Florida, living on a dilapidated bus, spending his childhood yelling at strangers that they were going to hell rather than lesser pursuits, like learning to read and write. Because who needs books after Armageddon, right?

It provides all the elements for a classic one-man show, from the tragedy of growing up under the constant terror that the world would be ending imminently, just what a young boy wants, to the comic failure of his parents and two other family members to recruit anybody else to the cause. This is not a sect that’s ever going to get its own Netflix documentary, much to Storm’s chagrin.

Yet Perfect Cult is not quite what you expect. The baby-faced Storm wants to have some fun with the ridiculous ideas of cults, not give audiences another slick autobiographical hour in which he exploits every detail of his experience and puts every emotion under the microscope.

Instead, it’s presented as an interactive show in which the audience are issued with regulation white robes on entry and the usual call- and response interactions become chanted mantras. Storm’s explanation that this shows how easy it is to manipulate the masses doesn’t quite sound convincing, since we all know this is an Edinburgh show and these are the attendant rules of participation, but there’s a certain peer pressre, sure. But if it were that easy, wouldn’t his childhood cult have found some new devotees?

In fact, Storm encourages chaos rather than obedience, perhaps as a backlash to his strict upbringing. We’re told it’s fine to get our phones out, to walk across the stage to go the the loo – which rather a lot of people take advantage of – and are encouraged to contribute. The idea is that we will set out the tenets for the perfect cult that we can take out into the streets of Edinburgh, chosen by consensus, rather atypically for such a movement.

Storm describes himself as having ‘youth pastor vibes’ and surely has enough charisma to genuinely start his own cult, should he want to follow in the family business. Between audience interactions, he relays the headline facts about his peculiar childhood, casually as you like and peppered with wry asides about, say, the disregard for empirical evidence. 

We don’t get to deep into the meat of the story, which can be a bit frustrating, and the fine line between enjoyable chaos and pure messiness is often breached. But it’s a fun hour, and one that offers the quintessential Fringe experience of doing something daft with strangers.

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Review date: 8 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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