Will Adamsdale: Borders (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

Will Adamsdale: Borders

A thematically cohesive, cleverly scripted and all-round charming Edinburgh Festival Fringe show

The Fringe programme is littered with self-indulgent, whiney, middle-class, white-boy comedians explaining, self-deprecatingly, their ineptitude. Will Adamsdale happily cops to this label and on the surface he offers a similar product: a shambling, self-apologetic hour in which he mocks his own shortcomings. He even trots out the trope in which he presents a show about failing to write a show while paradoxically having a litany of planned props and sound cues. It takes more skill to pull off something that purports to be shambolic and haphazard. Luckily for Adamsdale, he has plenty.

After winning the Perrier in 2004, he largely disappeared from the comedy spotlight. His activities during the interim provide fodder for this show, with his acting work informing both the content and shape of the story. Rather than a series of loosely connected anecdotes, what emerges is a tightly constructed and scripted narrative with clear theatrical inspiration.

The token theme is borders, which is so expansive a topic as to be almost meaningless, and Adamsdale works inside and outside the lines to produce witty and original musings on this topic. In lesser hands it could have been extremely dull, but his excellent judgement keeps the laugh rate high, the script on point and the humour often deriving from the most unexpected places. Due to the narrative demand for Adamsdale to suffer an existential crisis of some sort, he takes a more whimsical direction as the show progresses, much of it informed by a well-known television bank ad.

A thematically cohesive, cleverly scripted and all-round charming comedic concoction seems like a reasonable expectation for a Fringe show. Working hard to pull it off with apparent ease, Will Adamsdale throws down the gauntlet to all those other self-deprecating narrativists. This is how it’s done; anything less is cheating the audience.

Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug (not 11), 6pm, £11–£12.50 (£10–£11.50).

Will Adamsdale: Borders

  • 4 stars

The Invisible Dot Ltd. This show's about borders. Borders over land, across time, down the side of the piece of paper I'm writing this on… (At least that's the plan at the deadline for this blurb. What lies ahead for my plucky little stagecoach of a show as it crosses this borderline? Who knows? The whole thing could well…