Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Mark Forward presents Mark Forward, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Martin Gray.
“Scotland has chipmunks, actually,” yells one of the stupider hecklers heard this Fringe, as Mark Forward begins a story about the cute critters. Her companion adds something totally unrepeatable in a decent newspaper, before they flounce out, leaving the rest of us to enjoy Forward telling us why it may not be the greatest idea to give peanuts to any chipmunks you should encounter in a Canadian forest.
Canuck Forward is full of whimsy but his flights of fancy tend to end in a smash-up. His is a world of kindly grandmothers you wish dead and domestic abuse among long-term animal couples. And it’s mostly hilarious.
His delivery is dry as a month-old corpse, considered without being mannered, as he shares his stories, which tend to begin somewhere in reality and end up north of Utterly Mad.
I can tell you there’s a tale or two about his uncles, an anecdote about a shop that sells a puzzling volume of fancy hats… but you’d never predict where they wind up.
His timing is superb, right down to the number of seconds he spends sipping water, while his sharp acting sells the gags superbly.
Forward also plays an instrument or two, and has a rather sweet singing voice, all of which adds colour to his set. Trying to describe this bear of a man can’t really convey how good he is.
You may remember that “mostly hilarious” back there. Several times Forward refers to the fact that we’re a terrible (not the word he uses) audience, not laughing enough, slow to get the gags… yet he’s receiving a great response, the chuckling and belly laughs are regular as clockwork. I don’t know whether it’s a schtick, he can’t read his crowd or he genuinely expects constant bouts of gut-busting, but it takes away from the show slightly. We’re enjoying you, Mark – so enjoy us.
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 20 August 2015
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