Dance, physical theatre & circus review: The Artist, Assembly Roxy

Thom Monckton is trying his hand at oil painting, with chaotic results& Picture: Contributed
Thom Monckton is trying his hand at oil painting, with chaotic results& Picture: Contributed
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If there’s a difficult way to do something, Thom Monckton will find it. Last time we saw him at the Fringe, he was attempting to play the piano in his well-loved show, The Pianist. Now Monckton is trying his hand at oil painting, with equally chaotic results.

The Artist, Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) ****

Before he can even start his masterpiece, the studio space causes all manner of problems.

A leaky roof leads to distractingly noisy droplets, the paint pots are shelved too high, the picture frame isn’t correctly angled – and his still-life subjects of fruit and wine aren’t playing ball. Each problem leads to the most circuitous solution imaginable, whether it’s attempting to climb a ladder or use a staple gun to mount his frame.

Like all comic geniuses, Monckton gives the impression he can do nothing right, when of course we all know that you can’t pretend to mess up until you’re truly ­proficient at something. Every challenge he tackles has a comedic pay-off, and describing them here would only spoil the fun, but the flights of fancy he goes on mid-job are equally hilarious.

• READ MORE: Edinburgh Festival 2018: 13 of the hottest shows to see so far

Re-arranging his fruit bowl into an aesthetically-pleasing shape, Monckton imagines its contents trying to get past the bouncer on a nightclub door. When the “bananas only” policy becomes apparent, the pear hatches a particularly ingenious plan to bluff its way in. Sound bonkers? It is, and stomach muscle-achingly funny.

Born in New Zealand, trained in France and now based in Finland, Monckton can make people laugh just about anywhere. No verbal language is required, just his strong, bendy physicality and the plethora of side glances and audience stare-downs he does so well.

• Until 27 August, 4:20pm