Lachlan Werner: Voices Of Evil | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Lachlan Werner: Voices Of Evil

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Budge up Nina Conti, and make room for a new star ventriloquist – though Lachlan Werner demonstrates his talents in a very different way in this impressive, horror-themed debut.

He cuts a distinctive figure in alabaster-white clown face, pudding-bowl haircut and dressed as a choirboy. Wide-eyed, dyspraxic and painfully shy, he says not a word as his puppet, the witch Brew, lays out the format of the night in her sinister cackle. 

She promises an hour of occult darkness to make your nightmares come true, leading the audience in disquieting chants and gathering items for the impending blood sacrifice from us. She encourages Werner to introduce himself to the room but instantly cuts off his responses, demeaning him as a ‘poof’. 

The speed of their interaction demonstrates the performer’s technical prowess. Later, stage whispers and impressive voice-throwing underline that rare expertise. Great attention has been paid to the aesthetic, structure and flow of the hour, too, creating a substantial and coherent show with a real theatrical flourish.

Even saying very little, the hugely empathetic Werner conveys so much with his eyes and malleable face. He conquers his chronic bashfulness thanks to Brew introducing him to the concept of ventriloquism - very meta this - with a wooden spoon acting as his avatar, expressing what he wants to say. The joy that floods his face when he discovers this magic is gleeful.

For her ritual, Brew requires a virgin – and there’s only ever going to be one person in the frame. Wouldn’t you know it, though, that dabbling with such sinister forces unlocks an unimaginable hellish power, and we are soon face-to-terrifying-face with The Destroyer. Werner, the meek twink, is now possessed by an all-conquering demon. It’s quite the transformation. 

Our devil incarnate’s main tool of destruction is the slam-battle putdown, and he crushes many audience members this tongue-in-cheek way, a new aspect to Werner’s enjoyable crowd work. And though camp, the performer keeps a tight enough lid on his alter-egos to stop us flying off into Carry On Screaming territory, taking the silliness of the plot (almost) entirely seriously. 

That there are subtexts about accepting your body, sexuality and all-round weirdness add to the texture, but these never overwhelm an impressive and accomplished Edinburgh debut.

Review date: 18 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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