Basic Training (4 stars)

This article is from 2007

Basic Training

US air farce

The humour we associate with issues of belonging can be very powerful, mainly because it instils a kind of panic in people as who we are, where we are from, and where we are going are thrown into question. And panic is always funny. Kahlil Ashanti’s one person play, incorporating a succession of truly memorable characters, exploits this comic potential to perfection. We barely stop laughing from the moment we enter the auditorium.

In Ashanti’s biographical tale, on the day before he enlists in the US Air Force, his mother rather casually reveals that the man he has called father all his life, a brutal and abusive wretch, is not his biological father. From this point, we meet a succession of brilliantly created comic grotesques, from a mechanically insulting drill sergeant with a carefully concealed emotional lability, to a camp-as-knickers Lieutenant in charge of the ENSA-like military entertainment group that Ashanti joins at the end of his training. In between, Ashanti searches for his real father. His performance here shows amazing physical dexterity, and a perfectly timed sense of the absurd, and if the story falls into the occasional moment of sentimentalism more associated with American sensibilities than British, let it pass, for this is a fab night out. (Steve Cramer)

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 20 Aug, 7.40pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).

Basic Training

  • 4 stars

One-man autobiographical tale about life in the US Air Force. A performance of amazing dexterity (with a perfectly-timed sense of the absurd) by Kahil Ashanti. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007'.

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