Stuart Black

Maggie’s Room, Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters
August 6-9,11-16,18-23,25-30

The venues for the Free Fringe are sometimes a little disappointing, but expect to get what you pay for. It was a tight squeeze getting in and out of the hot, dark upstairs room in the heaving bar, but the young crowd was smiley and well behaved. Loud indie rock blared out with a disembodied voice from behind a black curtain (a little like an emo Wizard of Oz) encouraging us to wait it out until the best bit of the song before the show began. Stuart jumped onto the stage, looking like the Mad Hatter who’d lost his hat while overnighting in a car park. Wide eyed, with his silver hair high on his head, eyes accentuated with Marc Almond style eyeliner, you wanted to root for him and cross your fingers that he was going to make a genuine laugh tumble out of you. Which, again, in the Free Fringe, can be hit or miss. But thankfully, he did. Quite a few times.

Generally dry humour with a fidgety, slightly manic edge, checking his notes from his little note pad on a table luckily worked well with his nervous stage persona. Which you weren’t sure what percentage was real or not. I smiled at his surprisingly simple but glorious substitute for Prozac. His personal childhood and family stories were woven well with wry comments on modern life, politics and history.  He was able to punctuate the dryer stories with mini skits involving the Incredible Hulk, complete with the music from the iconic 70’s TV show. Moments like this make you glad you share the formative childhood moments of the same generation as the comic, and wonder how ‘relatable’ it is for the youngsters in the crowd. He’d also share some tender family memories; proud of his mother’s free behaviour in a restaurant after years of repression. He’d fling out a shocking line or two occasionally, about religion, reminiscent of a teacher seeing if you were still awake in a lesson straight after lunch when the heaters were up too high.

His piss take of New Age therapies and the guff on the boxes of beauty products, the acceptance of which often need a complete lobotomy or at least suspension of any rational thought, were realistic and funny. He finished on a high, with a slight peek into his crazy ‘very self-aware’ unconscious. His purposefully rambling anecdote about being carried along the YouTube sidebar and his Jungian description of his freaky dreams showed me this was a man I could definitely relate to. He strikes you as a sweet natured, humble man who appreciates his crowd and deserves every success. THREE STARS



Reviewer : Lisa Williams

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