Pavel is an animator from the godforsaken Eastern European micro-country of Funsktftkkk, where it is either "freezing or boring" and where "the abyss" is a naturally occurring feature that you can physically go and stare at. He travels to England after meeting Mickey Rourke in the gutter and getting some useful travel advice from him. The premise may sound ridiculous, but Pavel becomes an entirely believable character as the show progresses, and, aside from a few moments when you almost expected him to say, "Hello, matey peeps," in the style of Harry Enfield's Stavros, Buxton carries him off beautifully.
The heavily bearded Pavel is a bohemian soul, prone to drunken debauchery. He's a tortured genius whose attempts to mould the mainstream animation industry into his bleaker world-view inevitably fail, but do so hilariously. His existential take on Pokémon is superb, a black-and-white David-Lynch-inspired vacuum and the precise antithesis of the original. And he has a wonderful line about teaching students at an art school in London: overhearing them talking about television theme tunes, he bellows, "Can you remember the theme tune to life?"
Irascible, wistful and genial, Pavel gives us his life-story in a random order. He pulls chapter headings (including "Idiots", "Touched by Genius", and "Why I Can't Get My Work on TV") from a "genius bag" that once belonged to U2 ("There were still some words left in it when I got it - 'yeah', 'baby' and 'globalisation'") and lets his young audience choose them. The narrative remains seamless in spite of the order, and this device keeps things fresh for audience and performer.
The action is broken up by a number of clips - the Pokémon skit, a skilfully choreographed Star Trek scene where Pavel and Captain Picard appear to be having an actual conversation, and two sections that must be seen without spoilers, one quite brilliant about a demanding television executive and then a surprise closing scene. Because of Pavel's occupation, visual aids are acceptable and not a cop-out, as they so often can be in comedy shows.
It's hard to believe that this is Adam Buxton's Fringe debut, at the age of 37, and he'll certainly be welcome back on this form. It's also hard to believe that I've run out of superlatives.
Ends tonight (0131-556 6550)
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