John Kearns: Double Take and Fade Away, Monkey Barrel, Edinburgh * * * *
And he's met with great men but retained the common touch. In a show that pays homage to Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Beethoven, he's Lorraine Kelly - “a persona of myself, not giving it up easily”. In his trademark buck teeth and tonsured wig, the former Edinburgh Comedy Award winner maintains that this act isn't written but just what he takes from speaking to people. And what a rich, if self-contained existence it is.
Rising in song and conducting his bizarre morning ritual, he gets all dressed up but has nowhere to go, the phone seldom ringing with professional engagements. Staring out of windows, scrutinising ceilings, he finds great wonder in changing perspective, even if his quip at the Sistine Chapel fails to amuse a German tour. With a polymath's curiosity, he muses on the incredible engineering of a woodpecker's tongue, Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man of perfect proportion and the grace of Fred Astaire dancing through space. A finely fitted tuxedo is hailed as the ultimate indulgence, a badly fitted one an opportunity for social embarrassment, but a link to his father and grandfather. The reasons for his distracted funk since his last Fringe two years ago are alluded to, his love and loss. And he's jolted out of himself by the incomprehensible, the lackadaisical metaphysics of Nigella Lawson's baking, the ongoing march of Dad's Army, ghosts from a bygone era wiping the floor with him in the television exposure stakes.
Ultimately lifted out of his malaise by a chance remark from his widowed neighbour, Kearns' poised, poetic stream of consciousness is the whirring logic of a very funny man with a profound understanding of the human condition.
Until 24 August