★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Ben Mepsted: Middle Class Idiots represents everything that the now commercialised Fringe is missing: a comedian/actor doing what they love for their enjoyment, not the money. During this character comedy, Mepsted takes on five different personas in forty minutes with each character – and their own unique accent – holding forth to the audience for just under ten minutes.
Of the five characters, the first is undoubtedly my favourite, with Mepsted seamlessly slipping into the persona of an incredibly over the top Northern-Irish salesman who persuades (slightly terrified) members of the front row that they can better their lives by following the ways of Kim Jong Il. While all of the characters that follow – an out of touch politician, an actor, a footballer’s son and a talent show wannabe – are very funny in their own right, Mepsted doesn’t seem quite as at home in their personas as he does as a self-help salesman.
The comforting home-made Fringe feel of the show continues throughout, with Mepsted leaving the room and hiding behind a curtain between characters in order to loosen his shirt or, for his final character, put on a dress – one he looks rather wonderful in. Far from taking away from the show, these little pauses allow the audience a moment to move their mind away from the last middle class idiot and prepare for the next.
From his over the top entries (a different, but equally energetic one for each character) to his humble request to support the free Fringe (“a sort of indoor busking”) it is clear that Mepsted is in his element and the fun he is having helps the audience enjoy an excellent – and very early – forty minutes of comedy. Maybe the accents slip once or twice during the show, but overall Ben Mepsted: Middle Class Idiots is fantastically entertaining, performed by a man whose enthusiasm and charisma will carry him to a very successful career.
Ben Mepsted is on every day at 10:40 (AM) at the Counting House, West Nicolson Street until the 24th. Middle Class Idiots Fringe details.