- David Kettle
- 7 August 2018
A show that both mystifies and frustrates
Falling uncomfortably between faux-folk storytelling and character comedy, Third Man Theatre's troublesome show fails to convince as either. Co-writer Dan Frost plays the striding, Partridge-esque figure of Daniel Drench – west Cornwall's most prolific storyteller, we're told – to give an over-eager, over-hearty account of folk tale the mermaid of Zennor. But as his frustration with what he sees as a disinterested audience increases, so he descends into increasingly petulant and comic outbursts.
If Frost and co-writer Eddie Elks (who also directs) were aiming to instil genuine disinterest in their audience, they succeed disconcertingly well in their folk tale sections. Lengthy static episodes where Frost stares out into the audience to voiceovers from the speakers are simply bewildering – not funny enough to be comedy, but with not enough going on for drama. And despite a few signposting jokes early on, it's only in the final third that Frost properly establishes his mocking, sarcastic tone. By then it's too late – and doesn't explain why 40 minutes have been squandered on slow-moving, largely gagless material.
It's a neat concept for a show, and there's masses of potential in the swaggering, misguided Drench, among whose gems is a pedantic slagging-off of Poldark. But it's hard to recommend a show that seems to want to mystify and frustrate its audience for so much of its length.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug, 3pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10).