EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: NICK HELM, PHOENIX FROM THE FLAMES, Pleasance Dome
Nick Helm's Phoenix from the Flames is an electric blend of comedy and musical performance. His show is verging on riotous. Picture a sold-out room of just under 200, and Helm flamboyantly dressed in a feather boa, a burlesque performance cape with lights, gold sequin hot pants, gold metallic shoes, and - just for fun - a regular top hat and waistcoat.
We are treated to a half-rock concert, which really works given Helm's gravelly voice and original catchy songs. He is bold, brash and intimidating to the front row, though establishing a rapport with several audience members, and his performance is surprisingly uplifting.
Themes of mental health, bullying, and within this depression and suicide run through the piece, and we learn about the man behind the persona. It is a daily struggle as he "puts [his] armour on". Helm is hugely brave and, by sharing, hopes to be identifiable.
Helm has a passion for film, which brings him immense joy, as demonstrated through song to a captivated crowd. And utterly hilarious is his story regarding his participation in Comic Relief's boyband tribute 'No Direction', and his phone line pledge telephone helpline support.
Finally, Helm asks us to inspect our own behaviour, and consider whether it is tolerable. We are encouraged to "Keep on trucking on" as he reminds us that "Good things happen when you leave the house sometimes". Helm has risen from the ashes of his missed years from the Fringe, since his last show was in 2013, and, triumphantly, he is bringing the fire.
Warning: strong language