James Barr: Thirst Trap


Underbelly, White Belly
  August 5-11, 13-25 (17:20)

Material: three-stars.png  Delivery: four-stars.png  Laughs: three-stars.png 

Within the first 5 minutes of James Barr’s show I find myself wondering how he’s managed to stay single for this long. Despite wearing a man-sized avocado outfit, he nimbly Two-Steps with audience members in breezy, off-the-cuff chit chat as he introduces the show. He has been single for too long, and has decided to come to the Edinburgh Fringe to Tinder style ‘Right Swipe’ members of the audience he thinks are cute and invite them for an on stage speed date. The accompanying lightly tragic explanation for doing so in an avocado outfit is both funny and personally engaging, and this buys him all the goodwill he requires to launch into the first of the interactive date sessions.

The first audience member plucked from obscurity to take a shot at the top prize of becoming Barr’s Beau, is Jake. To the obvious delight of both James, and the audience, it transpires that Jake is a horse trainer. It’s at this point that James’ talents really shine. Rather than launching into a stream of cheap, obvious, gags he allows the audience to laugh itself out, then coyly inquires from under dipped beam, batting, eyelashes “So what does that involve?”
“Well, you just ride them till they’re tired out.” Comes the reply, and the audience go wild again. This effortless charm kept me deeply engaged throughout the whole performance.

The scripted material was somewhat more hit and miss. During the middle section James finally explains to us that a ‘Thirst Trap’ is “A sexy guy who looks for attention by posting semi naked pictures of themselves doing banal things”, and this provides some classic ‘caption competition’ style jokes. I’ll leave to your own imagination what it was that the guy who’d drawn the Eiffel Tower on his abs claimed he was trying to raise awareness of. A skit about finding the voice on a Mindfulness App uncontrollably arousing is less well received, like a slightly shoddily put together Cassetteboy remix of ‘Tony Robbins’ reading soft porn. It does have a cute, if tacky, visceral finish though.

Even though some of the scripted sections felt like fillers, there are a number of fine one-liners throughout, and it’s the time spent with James in the company of his dates, and his excellent audience work, which makes this show a perfect late afternoon palate cleanser of charm and whimsy.

Ewan Law


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