Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: James Acaster: Represent, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.
Mining his own unique and unlikely seams of humour, James Acaster continues to stun with the boundless creativity and technical mastery he applies to his Edinburgh hours, year after year.
With his usual, prematurely middle-aged attire an exclusive festoon of maroon and paisley, his angular frame sharply and smoothly cutting about the stage, his persona is that of someone who exists, both as part of, and outside of our world, mundane and yet alien.
He is so correct on the tiny details and acquired movements of romantic massage. Or the significance of a jumper draped around shoulders. But so oddly touched in his supposed former gang membership and enthusiasm for jury service, he blends aspects of observational comic and character act with seamless ease.
Indeed, the universe itself often seems to bend to his will. Even after the existential wig-out that closes Represent with a truly theatrical flourish, life and dentistry’s biggest questions are the only check on his otherwise impregnable self-confidence.
With wrong-footing bravura he opens the show promising to trade in the basest currency of the stand-up’s trade, celebrity gossip. Nothing is simply throwaway preamble in Acaster’s hours through, and through a largely unremarkable account of jury duty, outwith his co-jurors’ personality traits, he weaves a multitude of disparate threads. Some, such as his misguided interpretation of the phenomenon of “negging”, seduction by undermining someone’s self-confidence, are wonderfully funny standalone routines.
Yet the jewel in Represent is his ongoing exploration of Christingle, deconstructing the idiosyncrasy of the Christian service and concocting a series of scenarios involving the decorated orange that escalate in bizarreness.
With a little of the weirdness and lingering magic that one associates with religious ritual, it’s an apt metaphor for the strange fruit of Acaster’s comedy.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
Edinburgh Festivals 2015: complete coverage
• Get everything on our Festivals homepage – on desktop, mobile or tablet
• Looking for reviews? Check out the latest Scotsman reviews – or browse all the reviews ranked by star rating
• Watch all the latest videos from the #WOWwagon
• Get distracted by our Festival Blog
• Follow our social accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – and join the conversation with #WOWfest