Where/when: 48 Below, 1.15pm every day (not the 17th)
Walking twenty minutes out of the centre of town for a free fringe work-in-progress may not inspire the greatest confidence in the show, but when you see the fantastic flyer for Pat Mulholland’s Mulhollandland, you may find it hard to resist.
Luckily, this show does not disappoint.
A heady mix of stand-up and theatre landing somewhere as a one-man sketch show, it takes the form of the national variety performance of a failing totalitarian state. The show starts off with some fantastic alternative comedy bits- the ghost of brisket past and Sesame street Tory majority- are then suffocated by the phonecalls of a mysterious, anonymous representative of the central government who forces more mainstream approaches. This leads to things like a stereotypical angry Irish comedian and a spy posing as a ventriloquist amongst other things. On the surface it is merely a cutting deconstruction of Communist values, but the subtext is of the continued selling out of the free fringe- original, alternative stuff being squeezed out by club comedy.
The original and alternative are certainly what this show falls under. Hilarious and fresh, most bits land big and if they don’t then there’ll be a new ‘act’ in a few seconds to make up for it. Consisting of big laughs and including political jabs, surrealism and whimsy, as well as an underlying message, it is essentially the perfect Fringe show.
That’s not to say there aren’t some issues, mostly of the technical variety. The show involves a lot of sound queues and a projector and several times the cue comes in either too early or refuses to play at all, but that may as much be a product of the venue than anything else, as well as being the work in progress. Taking up the mantle of writer, director, performer, stage hand and tech, you get the feeling the extra polish provided by being able to delegate some of the stage work, as well as the budget provided by a big venue would make the show something truly special, akin to a Sam Simmons show (something this show is very similar to).
Overall, however, it is an enjoyable and laugh-packed hour and exactly what the Free Fringe should be promoting in its premier venues, as opposed to a cellar on the outskirts of the festival.