Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Daphne Do Edinburgh, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.
Considerably more than the sum of their disparate parts, sketch trio Daphne deliver a bold and refreshing Fringe debut that’s full of clever twists and inspired, somewhat creepy absurdity.
With upfront self-consciousness, they foreground their individual distinctiveness, affording themselves at least one big set-piece each and exploiting their spectrum of ethnicity – a Radio 4 slavery saga misdirects and delights, the vagaries of language driving the plot as much as skin colour.
Playing to their individual strengths, stand-up Phil Wang is the least natural but compensates with straight-faced conviction, often inscrutable and occasionally even a little anonymous; actor Jason Forbes keeps his powder dry before exploding as the lithe physical dynamo of the group; while the initially unheralded George Fouracres dominates virtually every scene, alternating between buttoned-up and crazed, his effortless descents from authority to despair the mark of an exceptionally accomplished comic performer.
Rather than making the show appear uneven, the varying workloads and internal dynamics only add to its off-kilter charm; the general variety of the skits offset by a lovely, rhythmic understanding of when to repeat and call back.
Even when they overuse Forbes’s standout impression as a get-out for one scenario, they acknowledge it, part of a savvy awareness of sketch convention and desire to subvert it, exemplified by a straight-faced finale that pulls the rug away by pulling the punchline.
A clumsy, Clouseau-esque barista is pure, impressive slapstick within the crammed confines of their Portakabin room, while a nightmarish vision of Postman Pat relies entirely on mood rather than writing. Yet that’s generally pin-sharp, the familiar set-up of insensitive doctors incrementally pushed to hilarious extremes.
Most impressive is Fouracres, the pathetic postscript to his Henry V performance as beautifully delivered as the high-flown speech preceding it.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 31 August
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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