Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution (3 stars)

This article is from 2014

Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution

Comedy veteran puts on engaging show but lacks spark at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Dawkins comes in for a kicking in this show by veteran comedian Robert Newman – and it's a pretty funny one too. In 1993, alongside his erstwhile comedy partner David Baddiel, Newman was once the first comedian to sell out Wembley Stadium. This month, he's ensconced in a deceptively spacious yurt in St Andrew Square, and its lo-fi atmosphere suits him.

Since the early 1990s and his days as part of the Mary Whitehouse Experience, Newman has become known for his political activism and has just published a new novel, The Trade Secret, an Elizabethan adventure about searching for secret oil wells. But for now, this show is about a new theory of evolution. It's rare to see a comedian segue from neuro-biological and paleontological theories to everyday slapstick humour as flawlessly as Newman does here, and it's a joy to watch.

His comic takedown of Dawkins' selfish gene theory is particularly engaging, and he posits his critique in a way that's ticklingly accessible. But tonight's performance is lacking a little spark, his connection with the audience amiable but not energising. It's a superbly-written show though, performed by a comedian who's not afraid to credit his audience with some intelligence.

Stand in the Square, 558 7272, until 25 Aug (not 18), 8.30pm, £12 (£10).

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