Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow Gareth Morinan Is Playing the Numbers Game [Z]
Gareth Morinan Is Playing the Numbers Game [Z]
Published on Tuesday, 20 August 2013

4 stars

The Banshee Labyrinth (venue website)
23-24 Aug, 6:40pm-7:40pm
Reviewed by Liam McKenna

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

“Who here is willing to take part in a survey?” asks Gareth Morinan, drawing a trickle of raised arms from the audience. He acknowledges the response with interest, and continues without pursuing anything more specific. This is just one of the many surveys to feature in this data-obsessed show.

Morinan has clearly put a lot of effort into this Fringe. That’s putting it somewhat lightly. You may be aware of him as the now-notorious subject of “#listingsgate”, after he advertised his show eleven times in the official Fringe programme – exploiting a previously uncharted loophole, and apparently breaking a rule the Fringe organisers weren’t even aware of.

Here is a man who likes data. He’s worked as an analyst for the government, but today is using data to solve the problem of finding love, inspired by a book on pick-up lines. He’s trying to see if you can find the perfect date through a series of charts, and the results are hilarious.

From the crowd, Morinan enlists volunteers to help re-enact a series of dialogues from his past conquests, and demonstrates how to manipulate behaviour through subtle linguistic gestures. But the difficulty arises when it becomes clear he requires quite a few volunteers, and this is a little like drawing blood from a haunted stone (the stone being the walls of the ‘haunted’ Banshee Labyrinth). But once the awkwardness is dealt with and the volunteers step forward, the show becomes more inclusive. Half of the crowd are playing a role.

Morinan controls the audience like the kooky lecturer everyone wishes they had. He is funny and organised; every slide is well-thought-out. The stats keep flying in. There is very little room for filler. There are deliberate blips, pre-prepared error slides and silly animations, which blend in well to break up the presentation and give Morinan space to breathe. He is even prepared to deal with unintelligible hecklers at the flick of a button, in a way that works casually to diffuse any awkward situations and silence troublemakers all in one go.

This is ‘edutainment’ – as Morinan describes it – at its very best. If you like made-up statistics as much as real statistics, if you want to gain an insight into how figures are manipulated to meet your expectations, and if you enjoy some fine political satire, then this show has got it all. There’s also a satisfying anti-climax that tells us everything you need to know about statistics in correlation to our blind romantic ideals.

So has Gareth Morinan won the numbers game? In theory, he should have. Statistically of course, we’ll have to wait and crunch the data to find out.

<< Morgan and West: A Grand ...   Kriss Foster and Friend >>

About our star ratings

We've changed our rating system for this year.

Find out more >>

Follow our reviews!

RSS Subscribe to RSS
Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Editor's Blog

We're blogging this month about the ethics and practice of arts reviewing at the Fringe.  Come and join the discussion.

Visit the blog >>