Sunday, 24 August 2008

Fringe Review - Tim Fitzhigham: The Bard's Fool, Pleasance Hut, 22/08/2008

Britain is not a world leader in very much any more, but the one thing we produce more and better of than anyone else is eccentrics. Sir Tim Fitzhigham, knighted by a deposed West Indian monarchy and holding the rank of Commodore in the Royal Navy as commander of the docks of a landlocked town, who has navigated the Thames in a paper boat, rowed across the English Channel in a bathtub, and lived as a medieval knight in a cave in Spain, qualifies for this title admirably.

Fitzhigham's problem, it seems, is that he reads too much. And that this reading leads him to thinking, and that's what gets him into trouble. Each of his previous adventures have come from "I wonder if I could do that" moments after reading some historical feat, and this year has been no different, after reading the poem Nine Daies Wonder by Will Kemp, the leading clown of Elizabethan England who, on being told by Shakespeare that there would be no role for him in the play Hamlet, as there would be no comedy in it, decided to teach the Bard a lesson in comedy by Morris Dancing from London to Norwich.

There were a number of problems facing Sir Tim in recreating this feat, however. And pretty much all of them could be summed up using the two words, "Morris Dancing." But problems are the stuff of comedy, without them there would barely be a show, so more power to the problems. Fitzhigham leads us through his preparation and his journey in increasingly frantic and frenetic style, whilst under the protection of his own flag, which as a Commodore he is entitled to fly giving him full jurisdiction over the surrounding area.

It's a scrappy show, to be honest, but that is part of Fitzhigham's charm, the fact that, whilst most likely every last word has been worked out in advance, he gives the impression that he is merely bumbling through whilst making everything up on the spot. And the fact is that he is such a likeable fellow that you can't help but be charmed by him and caught up in proceedings, even during a section of the show that skates perilously close to being in extremely bad taste.

In one portion of the show he makes fun of Brendon Burns' triumph in last years if.comedy awards, but the humour is in the fact that he must be aware himself that such accolades are almost certainly never going to be troubling his door. But it's an entertaining hour nonetheless, and a decent enough way to spend the early part of a rainy Edinburgh evening.

No comments: