Gilded Balloon at the Museum Venue 64

August 15th to 26th 13.30

**** (Four Stars)

This is a man so keen to communicate with his audience that he comes out and begins talking to us before the starting time, because, as he says, it is more interesting than standing behind a curtain. He welcomes those coming in at the last minute reassuringly. He is, in a sense, lighting the blue touch paper, prior to the actual firework display.

Robin Ince has a large series of slides that he intends to talk to us about, but he does not get through them all, and we do not worry, as he delights us with his many digressions and the whole hour is a joy. The energy, enthusiasm and passion for connecting with his audience make this guy stand out, and he makes many comedians look only half awake beside him.

He will move between genres and areas of interest in a flash, from, say, Alastair Sim to Jim al Khalili, from Robert Rauschenberg’s art to the comedy of Kafka, and Kafka’s tendency to laugh at his own work. He brings in his own ten year old son and his eighty eight year old father. There is his father’s ability to change and develop at a great age, and there is description of what he said to his son when the lad was seven about death, and about the adventures of the atoms that make up his body, which is a section I shall not forget.

We have the mimicry of Brian Blessed, that living legend, and the very precise and affectionate take-off of Brian Cox, which Cox apparently thinks is too camp.

There always seems to be more happening in Robin Ince’s head than he can possibly express, and I am sure we could have stayed all afternoon. I regret not having managed to fit in Robin Ince’s other show at The Stand this year. However, this show alone will be a bright light to look back on when this Fringe is over and done.

Tony Challis