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EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: A JOKE, theSpace on Niddry Street

EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: A JOKE, theSpace on Niddry Street

EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: A JOKE, theSpace on Niddry Street"Are you here for A Joke?" the venue staff ask. "I do hope so!" is the inevitable reply, and luckily this new play by Dan Freeman offers plenty to laugh along with.

Starring Richard Oliver, Robert Picardo and Sylvester McCoy, A Joke depicts three men meeting in a void and attempting to figure out who they are and what has brought them together. They swiftly realise that they are apparently the set-up for an archetypal joke, and attempt to understand the nature of their existence. The result is something akin to Waiting for Godot crossed with Six Characters in Search of An Author.

Like Beckett's famous work, it is light on story, but luckily the comedy keeps audience engaged throughout, while sci-fi aficionados will delight in the opportunity to see two much-loved performers in McCoy and Picardo on the Fringe. There are laughs (and groans!) peppered through the script as the three men deconstruct everything from road-crossing chickens to interrupting cows. As the characters search for meaning in the structure and common elements of jokes, it could perhaps use more of a narrative pay-off to serve as the play's punchline.

In terms of the performances, Richard Oliver rather draws the short straw as English guy having to play the straight man to two marvellous hams. Starting off as a bullish, posh stereotype, Oliver neatly made clear his character's development beyond the archetype. McCoy demonstrates his gift for slapstick from the outset and Picardo is effervescently eager and endearing throughout.

As with many absurdist plays, it's not always clear, but there are plenty of laughs and three excellent performances, which combine to make A Joke an amusing afternoon's entertainment.

A Joke runs at theSpace on Niddry Street until August 26 at 1.55pm.

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From This Author Amy Hanson

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