Simon Evans: The Work Of The Devil (3 stars)

Simon Evans: The Work Of The Devil

Both the head and heart are given sustenance in a revelatory Fringe hour from Simon Evans

In his 2019 Fringe show, Dressing For Dinner, Simon Evans dabbled in the testy arena of identity politics while never veering into territory that would have him culturally excommunicated. For this truncated Edinburgh, he has repurposed that show with an arguably more viable title, The Work Of The Devil, touching on various areas such as trans rights, football tribalism, tech's unfettered rise, Christian bakeries, and, in the final section, his own origins story. To say that even delving into that portion would require a heavy spoiler alert is a gross understatement: suffice to say that Evans will finally be able to take his show on the road this autumn allowing the nation to sit aghast at his family revelations.

Not only does the comic return to his 2019 show, he delves further back into his own stand-up canon with his 'three men walk into a pub' gag which initially trades on and then destabilises national and racial stereotypes. There's a clear glee about Evans when he begins this routine, and a solitary laugh from the crowd as he starts it hints at the temerity of the comic to be casting his net back to a 1970s trope. This is in crystal contrast with the near-audible clenching from the rest of his gathering, anticipating some antiquated horror that deep down we all know isn't coming.

Maybe it's the shape or size of this large-tented room, but Evans seems slightly underpowered on the night. Perhaps it's the simple fact of doing a show that is effectively two to three years old which can sometimes result in a slight dip in spark. Or it could be that he is so keen to experience the reaction in a room to his Shyamalan-esque twist that it feels a little rushed. In the hands of a lesser talent, all these elements stuck together would wind up in a disappointing show. But Simon Evans knows more than most how to write a cracking gag and regale a story that appeals to both head and heart.

Simon Evans: The Work Of The Devil, Assembly George Square Gardens, until Sunday 22 August, 8.30pm, £14 (£13).

Simon Evans: The Work of the Devil

  • 3 stars

Off the Kerb Simon Evans' last show, Genius 2.0 ('A masterclass' ★★★★★ (Scotsman)) provided a hilarious analysis of the departure of any visible sign of intelligence from modern life. But his new show raises the stakes, with his usual excoriating views of a world on fire given a perspective shift from personal revelations…