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Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Joseph Morpurgo/ Daphne/ Tom Parry | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Joseph Morpurgo/ Daphne/ Tom Parry

Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Joseph Morpurgo/ Daphne/ Tom Parry

Counting down at the world's biggest and best arts festival

Joseph Morpurgo's show is brilliantly inventive storytelling

Joseph Morpurgo, Pleasance Courtyard *****

 
In Soothing Sounds For Baby, Joseph Morpurgo uses found objects - vinyl LPs with content so esoteric you would swear he had invented them - and the framework of Radio 4's Desert Island Discs to fashion an ingenious and wonderful show.
 
Morpurgo is supposedly Kirsty Young's guest on the radio show - although in his painstaking cut and paste clips of the programme, Young's questioning becomes increasingly fractious so we know something is up. 
 
Each of his song choices leads into a tableau using a soundscape, visual gags, music, multimedia and all manner of props, plus a well judged degree of audience participation, to tell the story.
 
One minute Morpurgo is a crusty old piano teacher comically mispronouncing composers' names, or a frightening reader of a bedtime story ("AA Milne, name of a battery, mind of a killer") the next a jazz singer who wants to teach the world how to lurve with his creepy advice on how to attract the ladies. 
 
At first these tableaux are a seemingly bizarre - and often hilarious -  collection but we then realise they cross-reference and call back to each other. There's a backstory, and ultimately a twist that some more attentive audience members will guess before the unexpectedly moving denouement. A triumph and a compete delight.
 
Until 31 August
 
 

Daphne, Pleasance Courtyard ****

 
The three-man sketch group - Jason Forbes, who is of Jamaican heritage, Phil Wang, of Chinese heritage and "token white bloke" George Fouracres - are all smiles as they introduce themselves,  but one of the first sketches they do cleverly unsettles the audience. 
 
It plays with ethnicity, and in it Fouracres, rather than Forbes, plays a Jamaican aunt and it typifies the show - the trio work hard at delivering the unexpected and, while most of their material is playful fun, there's often a deliciously dark and unsettling edge to it.
 
The threesome run through 20-plus sketches, some of them interconnected, some melding into the next, with a few jokes - including an excellent running gag about television chef Ainsley Harriott - being tweaked and reworked.
 
They are masters of the pullback and reveal - which they helpfully explain to the audience - and a few sketches have several payoffs, while only a couple outstay their welcome. Most have surprising endings, and the hackneyed ones involving a doctor telling a mother bad news about her son eventually turn to a wonderfully well worked gag that's entirely original.
 
This is Daphne's debut year and the sketches are of a consistently high quality in both writing and performing. The three men play off each other's talents beautifully - Forbes is a fantastic physical comic and Fouracres a versatile actor, while Wang does the straight-faced stuff very well. And even if their finale is a rather obvious heartstrings-pulling nod to Blackadder Goes Forth, it remains an accomplished hour.
 
Until 31 August
 
 

Tom Parry, Tron ****

 
Tom Parry is one-third of sketch group Pappy's and he brings the same exuberance and off-kilter humour to this, his debut solo hour.
 
The theme of the show is Parry's love for fancy dress. He says there are strict rules about doing it properly, and the costume they choose says a lot about the wearer - and who could disagree with that? He's a man on a mission, to convince us that fancy dress is the way to happiness.
 
Parry interrupts his comic lecture with "five jokes and six thoughts", and the former are groaners - "Red sky at night. Shepherd's delight. Blue sky at night. Day" - while the latter allow to him to tell self-contained stories about subjects such as what to say when people ask if you've lost/gained weight, or the perils of a Cambridge interview, which he failed heroically, or why the show is called Yellow T-shirt.
 
Parry has a puppyish charm that never pales and he manages to induce the audience into singalongs and standing ovations. His assertion is that there's a deep life message related to fancy dress, but rather this is more simply a paean to positivity. The hour is a whole lot of fun and the audience leave rather happier than they went in.
 
Until 30 August

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