ComedyEdinburgh Festival FringeEdinburgh Fringe 2016ReviewScotland

Ben van der Velde: Barbarians – The White Horse, Edinburgh

Reviewer: R G Balgray

Pzazz. That indefinable mix of pace, quality of material, energy, call it what you will, Ben van der Velde displays it in bucketloads. A packed back-room in the pub advertised as the oldest in Edinburgh was whisked through a routine covering many, many bases – and then some.

His main schtick, though, is to tweak at the multiple absurdities we have to live with, particularly the “isms”- racism, sexism, terrorism – and throw in a dose of his own personal psychological analysis for good measure. And don’t forget some cracking dirty jokes, plus debunking religions in general, and his own complicated genealogical background in particular. Along the way, he manages a fine line in audience engagement (his is definitively not a performance for those who like to sit anonymously behind that glass wall…), and he doesn’t baulk at taking the odd chance or six with their willingness to go along with him. For walking a fine line seems to be his firm intention: some holy cows don’t seem so much to be mocked as kebabbed. But he’s working so hard, and so much on form rapport-wise right from the start that he seems to get away with it. He must have one of the highest jokes-per-hour counts in Edinburgh this month already. It’s only afterwards you realise just how structured and clever his material has been. If he can keep this level up, it will certainly be exhausting, but success must also surely beckon …

Runs until Sunday 28 August 2016 (not 15)


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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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