Fatboy

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The Independent Culture

Mike McShane returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with a gargantuan lead performance in John Clancy's acidic, postmodern satire on the American dream, Fatboy.

Mike McShane returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with a gargantuan lead performance in John Clancy's acidic, postmodern satire on the American dream, Fatboy.

McShane's obscenely obese, ogreish, profane, big-booted Fatboy is an amalgam of consumerism run amok and corrupt power choking and gorging on its own excess. He is Berkoff writ fat. Along with his dear, cuckolding, lady wife, Nancy Walsh's self-centred, scheming, child-eating Fudgie, Fatboy inhabits a grotesque, Viz-style comic book world of orgiastic violence and rampant sex, which is overlaid with Shakespearean and horror-movie references.

In a colourful, cardboard set of a world, Fatboy can be arraigned before a corrupt, judge (David Calvitto) on a multitude of hideous crimes and emerge - thanks to a bit of witty rhetoric in which he dismisses the crimes as "freedom" - as the ultimate ruler. In an all-American production, the writer and director whose Americana Absurdum stormed the Fringe in 2002 is clearly aiming many of his barbs at the US political system, and, midway through the play, the catchphrases of several US presidents are mockingly enunciated.

Relishing the excellent, corrosive script, McShane gives a master-class performance as the man who is the self-selecting, brutally self-perpetuating master class itself. For however many times he is, or appears to have been, killed, Fatboy raises his ugly head again to rule over a people he openly despises and reviles.

What do you get if you cross the man behind Archie the inventor from the BBC's children's television programme Balamory with a 6ft 7ins 21-year-old Old Etonian and an erstwhile member of Frederick Gough comprehensive in Scunthorpe? The answer is a jolly funny sketch show.

Miles Jupp - the 2001 winner of Channel 4's So You Think You're Funny?, the exceedingly tall Humphrey Ker, and Stuart Murphy gel well, whether as camp, crossword-fixated air traffic controllers, mindless of pilots screaming on their headphones, or as the blunt un-PC football manager (Murphy), his cautiously whispering legal adviser (Jupp) and an enthusiastic prospective wheelchair-bound centre-forward (Ker).

Although it is their first joint written production, the three have performed together in improv for several years in Edinburgh and it shows, with their assured timing and confident ad-libbing. The Rebels' bizarre brand of humour and witty lateral thinking has a touch of the Pythons, while Jupp's beautician Michelle, discoursing on "terrorerrorism", is a wonderful comic creation. A versatile and vibrant performance.

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