Ahir Shah: Duffer
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 August 2018
A magnificent hour about politics, family and a 1970s classic hit
You could never accuse Ahir Shah of lacking commitment to a routine. In Duffer, his running 'Bohemian Rhapsody' gag journeys from him recalling his father being falsely awestruck at his little boy's prodigious prose efforts, all the way through to the bucket speech, and dotted throughout mainly to relieve a packed audience from the many tense moments Shah inserts into his latest Fringe triumph.
After hopping from one Fringe venue to another for several years, Shah seems to have found his permanent mojo in the Cabaret Voltaire's largest room, producing a hat-trick of top-notch hours in this long, cavernous space. Arguably, Duffer is his most personal show to date, while never losing the undercurrent of pin-sharp social and political analyses that has helped keep him ahead of the pack.
Often seemingly breathless from the vital task of getting his carefully crafted sentences out into the air, he frequently leans in and allows his eyes to dart around the room, drawing the crowd into his conspiratorial (or downright cheeky) world. But the beating heart of this magnificent hour evolves around his octogenarian grandmother, a woman he has looked up to throughout his entire life while being perfectly able to spot her flaws; she also acts as the moving source of his show's title.
A couple of things have happened to Shah in the last 12 months that seem to have subtly altered his viewpoint. He's set aside the anti-depressants to experience August in a whole new light and he's even considering whether some sort of religious belief might actually be an avenue open to him after a lifetime of secularised dissent. Whatever it is that has driven him on to produce Duffer, he needs to bottle it and fast.
Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, until 26 Aug, 2.15pm, donations; Underbelly Cowgate, 24 & 25 Aug, 5.20pm, £12 (£10).