Edinburgh Review: Comedian Dies in the Middle of a Joke – Ross Sutherland

More from our Edinburgh Ones to Watch series. Annexe Editor Nick Murray reviews Comedian Dies in the Middle of a Joke.

The Edinburgh Fringe has become renowned for theatre companies taking experimental and interactive performances and casting them at an unsuspecting audience. They can be interesting and inventive, or they can be an ever-stretching hour of self indulgence. Whether that kind of thing is your cup of tea or not is up to you. However, finally a show is coming to Edinburgh, crossing the boundaries of interactive theatre, spoken word and performance that feels genuine while also trying something really new.

In Ross Sutherland’s Comedian Dies in the Middle of a Joke, a short scene plays out to the audience in which a comedian in an 80’s comedy club performs on stage. It’s not ruining the story to tell you he dies… It’s in the title.

What is unique about the show is that every person in the audience gets a small role to play. It can be as simple as just watching and applauding at certain moments or as grand as being the comedian (reading from an auto cue). Like a surreal game of musical chairs, at the end of the scene, each person moves one seat along, essentially becoming a different character, and the scene resets.

The show becomes a funhouse mirror of this single scene as it changes each time and, though it sounds like it should be quite chaotic, a peculiar kind of rhythm starts to emerge and the scenario evolves slowly and subtly until show draws to a close.

This show is well worth experiencing if you want to see something different, and Sutherland’s skill as a poet is reflected in his snappy and clever script writing.



Comedian Dies in the Middle of a Joke is on at the Pleasance Dome from 2nd-27th August.


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