Comedy review: Trevor Lock’s Community Circle

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: This is not, on the face of it, the funniest show on the Fringe.

Bannermans (Venue 357)

*****

In fact, Lock points out several times that there are no jokes. His show is, he says, for the strong, for those of us who decide for ­ourselves when to laugh. And there seem to be many of us in the room because we all laugh a lot.

Then, at the end of his hour, he apologises for not having been able to do the show at all. Which has been ­entirely our fault, apparently. I, for one, am not sorry, for what we get in between sitting down and standing up is an absolute masterclass in ­comedy performance.

The traverse layout of the seating leaves the audience facing each other rather than the stage and Lock’s schoolmasterish onstage persona is perfectly judged to fit his total control of his audience.

We regress to being ­giggly schoolkids quite quickly and take instruction surprisingly meekly when Lock fixes us with a steely gaze. He doesn’t quite say, “It’s only your own time you’re wasting” but you feel he might at any minute. We are exploring reality and whether there is such a thing as objective reality. It is a social experiment, and it is both fascinating and ­hilarious. Several people in the audience are given notepad and pen and instructed to write down what is ­happening as they see it: block capitals, full sentences.

From time to time, Lock checks on their work. This sounds slight, but it creates brilliance. His manipulation of the audience is mesmerising. He has a ­ferociously fast wit which goes from nought to brilliant comeback in a nano-second.

Anyone who truly enjoys audience participation needs to see this show, which also boasts quite the best bucket speech in history, a brilliant ­consideration of why weeing where you sit in an ­audience might actually be the thing to do, a painfully funny roll-call that owes nothing to Rowan Atkinson and everything to Lock – and left me in awe and wondering why Lock is not a household name.

Until 27 August. Today 3pm.