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Rain and reviewing - Sunday 3 June
Published on Sunday, 03 June 2012

Is today the Jubilee? I could look it up on the internet, but last time I looked something up on the internet it was the weather in Oxford, just before I packed. It did not go well.

The are certainly Jubilee celebrations taking place at Oxford Castle Unlocked, so I headed over there for a look at the street theatre and Fringe previews. After some heroic rain-soaked unicycling from Le Navet Bete, a brass ensemble and an excerpt from Mens Rea that will be on at the Simpkins Lee Theatre later this week, I realised I wasn’t hardcore enough to stand in the rain in flip flops anymore… and escaped to the Ashmolean to see what indoors had to offer.

There’s a really interesting section on the evolution of writing that looks at the influence of different writing materials on different writing systems. After a while, though, it made me feel guilty for not having written up all the shows I saw yesterday, and went back to the B&B to get on with it.

Compared to the sometimes maddening pace of Edinburgh in August, Oxford’s 10-day foray into fringe is a pretty manageable affair. Yesterday, however, I still managed to see 4 shows back to back. This is the kind of decadence that seems like a great idea at the time, but does odd things to your digestion.

I was excited to squeeze Danny Pensive’s Map of Britain into my evening, having seen it in previews at Buxton Fringe last July. Although the show was still in development, I was thoroughly won over by the whimsical stories of Danny’s travels, all told with childlike enthusiasm and a charming Sunderland accent.

Danny’s offbeat take on the world, and comedian John Cooper’s original sense of timing, means this isn’t your average stand up. This evening, the audience wasn’t quite ready for this, and couldn’t seem to get on board with the show’s concept.

It’s always interesting to be reminded of the power of the audience to make or break a show. Particularly in comedy, adaptability may often be the key to making a show work. The problem with character comedy, of course, is that staying in character places certain limitations on the performer’s behaviour. The character of Danny is a marvelous creation, but his odd demeanor adds an extra level of challenge for Cooper if he needs to win over an audience.

Danny Pensive seems to be a polarizing figure – if it’s not your cup of tea then it might be hard to change your mind, but if you like your comedy eccentric you’ll find lots to love in the act.

There is a pigeon on my window ledge that keeps cooing and pecking at the glass. I went downstairs and there was a pigeon on the window ledge down there, too. It looked like the same pigeon but I didn’t look close enough in case I started to creep myself out, so instead I’m heading back out to see Scallywags, which Richard reviewed in Brighton.

Tomorrow it’s going to be un-rainy. I know this because I looked the weather up on the internet, and I trust it this time because I really want to do something outside. Then it’s back to the Old Fire Station for a magic and comedy double act.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Oxfringe 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.