- Brian Donaldson
- 27 August 2019
A simple scene played out 15 times with hilarious results
Paolo Nani first performed The Letter in 1992 and has since toured the show all across the world. Finally, the show made its Scottish debut in August, and the wait for fans of classic mime 'n' slapstick has been well worth it. Essentially, the same scene of a man writing a letter at his desk and putting it an envelope while having some red wine and trying not to look at the framed photo of a 'loved one' is played out in 15 various ways. After the relatively straight opening version (the spitting out of his wine gets the biggest laugh), he introduces each successive version with a word on a card: 'repetitions', 'backwards', 'vulgar' and 'horror' are just four examples.
Delivering the backwards version second seems a bold move as it's arguably a genuine showstopper and might have been better placed later on when the inevitable midway lull arrives. But ultimately, the standard remains admirably high throughout, with Nani's timing and tomfoolery beyond reproach while the comical things he can do with his eyeballs are a treat.
Perhaps it was a last-night thing, but Nani takes the extended applause as an excuse to come back on for a very non-Fringe encore, and subsequently milks the acclaim that follows for all its worth. During the performance he utters some guttural noises and makes the odd sniff, but he does open his mouth at the finale to assure us that Edinburgh audiences (unlike those in Japan and Belgium) were among the best he's experienced in those 27 years. Paolo Nani certainly put his stamp on the Fringe.
Run at Pleasance Dome ended.