Edinburgh Festival Fringe: If you are noise and sweat averse, Phil Nichol’s shows are always going to be challenging for you, but do persevere with this one.
Heroes @ Monkey Barrell (Venue 515)
It is worth every decibel of the noise and every millilitre of the sweat. Fans of Nichol’s other work will be delighted to hear that the show also contains acting. This show feels like all grown up Phil. Philosophical Phil. And crazily funny Phil. It is his most properly personal show ever, beautifully crafted, without a single comedy stitch that is not neat and secure.
Of course there is the Nicholian raging and rampaging around the place, but now the sound and fury is not just strutting and fretting. He takes the idea of being wrong and leads it from the flat earthers he meets online, through a sweet grammatical detour to a consideration of facts and our mutating relationship with them.
He despairs gloriously at the lack of any hierarchy of facts now. Then, after taking us to his own family’s born-again Christian beliefs, we take a comedy scree run down through fundamentalism and fun with Anne Robinson, to his brother Andrew. And the car crash that left him in a coma. This is the first of a trio of stories through which Nichol examines ‘being wrong’ and his problem with, even occasionally, accepting that inevitable part of being human. The stories present breathcatching scenarios of life and death and pain and God. They are deeply personal stories that speak to universal conundrums. This is a show that makes you laugh and think while you are watching, and then wakes you up in the night for to laugh and think again.
Complexity and nuance have never been shouted so sweatily. Yet complex and nuanced this show is. It asks genuine questions about right and wrong and the huge, tangled spaces in between. The last story is so beautiful it silences the room. Just hoping it is true because Nichol has just pointed out that he was off his face on mushrooms at the time so his memory might be hazy.
Until 27 August. Today 9pm.