Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead

Another superlative multimedia romp from the ludicrously talented Austentatious member

For reasons best known to themselves, the Edinburgh Comedy Award panel saw fit not to hand-deliver the 2015 main prize to Joseph Morpurgo for his Desert Island Discs-themed Soothing Sounds for Baby. They could do us all a favour and make up for that glaring oversight this week, even if Hammerhead is ultimately not quite up to the strident majesty of that previous show.

As with Soothing Sounds, his fantastic new hour puts a 'Joseph Morpurgo' on the spot and stands back to allow him to sabotage both himself and his craft. Last time it was through the format of a radio interview, this time the stage is set for a post-show Q&A (possibly featuring cheese and wine) with the actor having just completed a monumentally long, solo theatrical performance of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

As he attempts to answer questions being live-streamed from all corners of the internet as well as from this Pleasance audience (Morpurgo may be a member of the Austentatious improv team but these interactions are scripted to the minutest detail), without losing his temper (he fails), his unwieldy project unravels at the seams. This collapse is not exactly a shock given that in this Frankenstein, 'Morpurgo' has played all the characters (including some not comprised of flesh and blood), spoken several languages, has been forced to do an awful lot of admin on his own, and is creatively hindered by being contractually bound to a side project.

Every aspect of the Q&A, as well as external factors feeding his state of paranoia, are packed with hilarious lines aided by visual multimedia gags coming at us at an extraordinary rate. Hammerhead is a breathtaking ride which lets up for barely a second. And if you thought the jokes would end when Morpurgo departed his stage, you'd be wrong …

Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug, 8pm, £9–£12 (£8–£11).