Joseph Morpurgo: Soothing Sounds for Baby
A majestic multimedia artefact about music and memory
This article is from 2015.
There used to be a saying that some comedians heading up with their Fringe show would ‘write it on the train’. How often that genuinely occurred is unclear but Joseph Morpurgo’s work is the polar opposite of an hour thrown together at the last minute. With his latest ‘found’ multimedia comedy artefact, you get the distinct sense that each line and every moment is the result of painstaking months of research, production and editing.
The standing ovation which the Austentatious member received, a rare happening in a Pleasance bunker, was deserved for effort alone: thankfully Morpurgo has a full grasp on what makes for a wonderfully funny as well as staggeringly innovative Fringe event. Set up as an edition of Desert Island Discs, Morpurgo is being grilled by a grumpy and confrontational Kirsty Young, her words spliced together from actual episodes (that task in itself must have kept Morpurgo impossibly busy from early September).
The tunes he selects introduce us to a semi-fictionalised gallery of characters. We meet Joseph Cooper (host of Face the Music, the BBC’s classical music quiz from the 60s and 70s) conducting a piano lesson; we get dating advice from jazz fusion pioneer Stanley Clarke (influenced by the slightly creepy album cover for Let Me Know You); there’s some spoken word, too, with Winnie the Pooh taking a sinister turn, while a rapper barks some sick rhymes about, obviously, golf. All the while, there are projected visual gags by the crateload and a totally daft quiz. And how did he mark the receipt of a whole room on its feet? Did he sign a string of autographs before slumping backstage drenched in fizzy wine? No. As we slowly filed out, he quickly gathered up his many props to make way for the next act. No matter how brilliant your show (and Soothing Sounds for Baby is truly majestic), the Fringe will always keep you firmly rooted.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 18), 8.15pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£7–£9).