Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum (4 stars)

Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum

A jarring and difficult hour of top clowning

Not sure what they're putting in the water over in America (though no doubt their president would have some wild theories), but the alt-clowning industry is positively thriving. When Doctor Brown found major critical and box-office success (and an Edinburgh Comedy Award) on the Fringe, it suggested that sketch and stand-up might be pushed all the way in the search for the number one Fringe comedy form. Natalie Palamides followed in his bendy footsteps, and now Courtney Pauroso is in town to inflict more nightmares on the unsuspecting Edinburgh public. And in particular on the one person who is roped into a long-running plot device which brings a whole new meaning to audience participation.

Starting off on a large ergonomic balance ball, Pauroso takes on the character of an awkward youth who is in hot pursuit of a new pal. From out of the darkness, she plucks Dan, a guy whose vague reluctance to get involved threatens to derail the gig, but he pulls it together in time to make some valuable contributions. A game of leapfrog is followed by a slice of intense piggyback action. From there we enter darker territory as Pauroso disappears behind the curtain and returns in the guise of a far more predatory character. What she has in mind becomes quickly clear while Dan has further skin in the game with their 'relationship' being taken to the next level.

Without giving too much away, the pair are on a journey through life with Pauroso not afraid to expose herself to the world (physically and otherwise) and her gifted performance and subtle improvised skills keeping proceedings on track. The ending is a moving farewell, with the familiar TV theme-tune end-music a deliberately jarring choice which heightens the sense of conflict and contradiction that we have just witnessed.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug (not 13), 9.40pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11).

Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum

  • 4 stars

Soho Theatre Developed with Dr Brown and from the producers of the smash-hit award-winning shows Nate and Laid. American comedian Courtney Pauroso makes her Edinburgh Fringe debut with a character clown show (definitely), burlesque show (eventually) and feminist allegory (sure, probably) all rolled into one surreal and…

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