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Ed Eales-White: Champions
Published on Monday, 16 July 2012

4 starsUnderground Venues, Comedy
Run ended
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

Best known as part of sketch group Clever Peter, Ed Eales-White is on the road to Edinburgh with this debut solo show.  It’s a big-hearted, warm-spirited performance – which pokes fun at the familiar foibles of people around us, while reassuring us that, actually, we’re all pretty much OK.  It won’t be the most polished or thematically-consistent work you’ll see this Fringe, but it might be one of the most feel-good.

If you’re shy, though, don’t choose a seat in the middle of the front row.  Those who did played a starring role in many of the sketches – though it must be said, Eales-White treated his stooges with such easy-going courtesy I grew envious of those he dragged onto the stage.  Working well with his willing “volunteers”, he never sounded bossy but gave crystal-clear pointers about what they were expected to do.  And he’s confident enough to let them throw a curve ball or two, with his ad-libbed responses adding to the sense of easy rapport that underpinned his routine.

Among his characters – all of whom came back a couple of times – we met a pub sports bore, a high-falutin’ author who’s “working through his issues”, and a petrol station attendant with a curious perspective on customer service.  My favourite, though, was the wannabe private eye, who’s not quite as observant of his wife’s behaviour as he’s led himself to believe.  The end to his tale had a kernel of tragedy, something really memorable sketches so often contain.

If you look really carefully, though, you’ll spot that Eales-White’s palette of characters isn’t as varied as it appears.  Really, there are just three of them.  One of them’s bluff and shouty; one’s that annoying person who attaches themselves to you; and the third one’s a pigeon.  True enough, there’s no need to vary a winning formula – but a few of the sketches did conjure up that slight sense of déjà vu.

And also… Champions?  Where exactly did that come from?  A brief tacked-on explanation advances the theory that we’re all champions (cue the inevitable singalong to Queen), but it’s a pretty tenuous theme.  Together with a 15-minute underrun on its allotted time, it gave the impression of a work still in progress – curious, since the programme implies it’s been around for a while.

But Eales-White is forgiven all this – gladly, freely, wholeheartedly – because he’s just such a lovely guy to have around.  Stepping out of character at the very end, he shows an endearingly straightforward earnestness about the show he’s put on; and the same simple desire to entertain ran right through all that went before.  I enjoyed the show immensely, and left feeling as though I’d just spent a jovial hour in the pub with a lifelong friend.  And if you can make your fellow man feel such warmth and happiness… well, I guess you’re a champion after all.

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