Edinburgh Festival Fringe: In the guise of his grotesque alter-ego Dickie Rosenthal, Josh Glanc’s Fringe debut is a memorable one.
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
Ensconced in a muscle suit, he’s an intensely focused bodybuilder, hawking protein powder to build the muscles he claims are required to be a real man. He has a very personal investment in the product, believing that the more he inflates his body, the more he can suppress his past as a nebbish Jewish dweeb.
Bouncing on stage to raucous music, his vainglorious, peacock display involves challenging the men in the crowd and insulting the women. Virtually from the start though, he betrays deep insecurities, confiding in a mirror as he struggles to gee himself up. Ridiculously exaggerated, Rosenthal’s mania escalates into attempting a feat of strength that ends in humiliation, his bravado collapsing as he regresses to childhood fears, his pathetic sales pitch stripped away to reveal the real him.
Though initially little more than a grossly absurd caricature, Glanc ultimately makes Rosenthal sympathetic, a potent take on toxic masculinity and a more troubled, nuanced character. And while Manfül is rarely as tight as it could be, he’s skilled enough to ad-lib around his audience’s responses.
Until 28 August. Today 9:30pm.