Comedy review: The Man, Underbelly, Bristo Square - Jersey, Edinburgh

So much is being said about sexual identity at this Fringe that it can start to blur into a miasma of virtue signalling.

The Man, Underbelly, Bristo Square - Jersey (Venue 302)
The Man, Underbelly, Bristo Square - Jersey (Venue 302)

The Man, Underbelly, Bristo Square – Jersey * * * * *

Patrick McPherson takes the character comedy route, via a “workshop”attended by us, the final 100 applicants for the role of The Man.

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On stage we meet Guy, the perfect embodiment of toxic masculinity and proud of it. Guy is a wonderful monster, and McPherson’s performance is ferociously funny, whether explaining dominance to a woman in the front row, or getting slightly sidetracked into the tactics of family Monopoly.

Then there is Emmanuel, about whom there is more than a whiff of lavender and who helps us through the physicality of masculinity. He too is a deliciously awful creature, brought to fabulous life. Yes, the characters are painted with a broad brush, and yes, they are cliches. But within the cartoon outline the fine print of each man-construct onstage (and off) is sharp and telling.

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There is not a speck of fat on any part of the hour – not on the lip-synch extravaganzas, the hilarious game of Dickhead Bingo, the introduction to the six ‘friends’ every man will need, the radio phone-in, or even the spoken word. The show is sculpted like the abs on a comedy Zac Efron.

And that allows for the occasional intense moment – like the section about drunk hugging – that foreshadows the unexpected ending. I am not going to tell you what that is, just that it is brave and passionate and the antithesis of every other Big Finish you will see this month. Be a Man. Go.

KATE COPSTICK

Until 26 August