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Review: Charles Booth: VSOP @ Brighton Fringe

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

Comedian Charles Booth’s hour-long show at The Warren presents a brisk menagerie of idiosyncratic characters, from a homosexual fisherman desperately hiding in the closet to a psychotic Scottish flatmate obsessed with soup, with enthusiasm and élan. They’re not all hits – far from it – but there is sparks of wit and imagination throughout, and Booth trots through his material at such a lick that should one character fail to impress, another will be along momentarily that might. And his vocal versatility is remarkable throughout.

Booth opens with a sketch about a lonely loser accidentally falling in love with his mop after using it as a practice dance partner. It’s a fairly original and promisingly wacky idea, but Booth fails to take it beyond this fertile premise: its progression is tightly mapped, but once the initial physical humour dries up, there is nowhere else to go. It’s a similar story with the psychotic Scottish roommate and a flamboyant Spaniard obsessed with Candy Crush: plenty of control, but beneath the surface there isn’t much to relate to, and thus to laugh at.

Booth has more success with a short sketch of Roger Moore advertising cognac, another of a drunk Jesus abusing Judas at the Last Supper, and a quick song about the gender inequality masquerading as a seedy pop ballad, perhaps because there is something lurking within each of these that the audience can tap into: the shallowness of masculine posing, the fundamental oddness of religious ritual, and the hypocrisy of the music business. But this is to inappropriately intellectualise them; they’re funny because they’re funny.

Even the sketches that aren’t particularly amusing are far from unbearable, though. Booth is a chameleon, and transforms entirely, both vocally and physically, to inhabit all of his characters, and it actually becomes a pleasure to watch him work. The refined construction of each of his short pieces, even if the polish detracts from the humour at times, is also rather charming as well.

3/5

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