The room is laughing before Barry Ferns even gets on stage.
Barry Ferns: Barry Loves You, Just the Tonic at the Tron (Venue 51) ****
His pre-show music is his first joke and most of us know it and are already joining in songs like Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Barry, and The Killers’ Are We Human, Or Are We Barry. He is his own warm-up and MC and he is as good as it gets at both. He explores the problems of being a Barry, his mother’s use of inverted commas, and the huge differences tiny changes in what we hear can make.
Barry worries, as we get into the heart of the show, that we are not that great at real communication. “Meat Puppets”, is an old directors’ expression for actors, but that is how Barry sees us. Alone, together. There are laughs, Tinder and shame attacks, how technological progress is driven by wanking, his own over-politeness, and a hilariously awful tale set in a gay club – but this is a serious thought- piece and it feels like it has been a long time coming.
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He explores his own innate drive to break tension … that is how we make laughter … but here he creates it, as he pulls us, gently, with him down quite a dark comedy road. So often, with an Edinburgh show, there is a sense that the performer has cast around for something to hang their hour on, but here, there is a powerful feeling of the performer knowing that this is the time to tell his tale. It is a beautifully constructed show and the sting in its tail will take your breath away. You should be aware that there is quite a lot of hugging at the end of this show. But by the time you get there, you will need it. This is a powerful hour.
• Until 26 August, 9pm