Theatre Review: Funny in Real Life, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh

Some stand-ups aren't that funny in real life. Rob Rouse, you suspect, is different.

Rob Rouse and Helen Rutter wring laughter out of marital strife with Funny in Real Life.
Rob Rouse and Helen Rutter wring laughter out of marital strife with Funny in Real Life.

Funny in Real Life, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh ***

Everything, is material for him as he takes the stage for a stand-up gig - home, family, sex - at least until his wife, Helen Rutter, starts objecting about being the butt of his jokes. This breezy follow-up to the real-life couple's, comedy-drama The Ladder, lacks a little of that show's sustained invention and realism but ups the emphasis on comedy and is probably more enjoyable for that. Essentially, a protracted marital spat about boundaries, behaviour and what's acceptable to share on stage this skates quickly over the more serious consequences of marital discord, like divorce, in favour of getting to the next laugh. The effect is like a more civil Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, albeit one with a lewd ventriloquist prop comedy involving the couple's kids. It's perhaps necessarily dramatically light as the couple's rapport is always evident, Rouse's marvellously expressive face - like a puppy continually begging for a smile - ever-threatening to crack Rutter's carapace of grievance.

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