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FringeGuru

 
Activism Is Fun
Published on Monday, 20 August 2012
4

4 stars

Globe
Comedy
4-12, 14-25 Aug, 2:15pm-3:15pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

Chris Coltrane has made a strikingly different stand up show. It’s not different because - as he feared might have been the case in the show’s first draft - it doesn’t have any jokes, it’s because this show is about political activism, with the distinct twist that Coltrane has gone out there and lived it and (crucially) believes it ought to be fun. He explains how he became politicised - how he got involved in direct action and protesting - and he tells it all with a personable and very human delivery. Whatever your politics, it is hard to imagine that anyone watching this show wouldn’t be rooting for Coltrane and his impassioned cause.

This show is directed by Josie Long, and Coltrane shares ground with her similarly politicised material, but their styles are very different. Where she’s surreal and full of flights of fancy, he tells stories of the real nuts and bolts of getting stuff done. And Coltrane’s introduction featuring some of Long’s advice to him as a performer is wonderfully funny.

Coltrane is not the most charismatic showman. His stage manner is charming enough, but he doesn’t have the practised ease of many stand ups. And he doesn’t give himself much space to relax and breathe in his show. Luckily his material makes up for this, but he’ll be even more interesting in another year or two when he’s settled into the idea and pace of an hour long show.

Another oddity is the film that ends his show. It’s great, but it’s a film of a protest he’s already told us about in detail earlier. Somehow the telling of the tale and the movie version need to be meshed together more. As it is, we see the same story twice.

But it’s impossible to escape Coltrane’s wide-eyed wonder at his rebirth as a political activism, and his enthusiastic insistence that protesting can be fun and funny. His earnestness – and he is earnest in places – never grates. It’s quite impossible not to fall under his spell.

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

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