Writer: Henry Moss
Festivals are about spotting the diamonds in the rough, the shows, concepts and creatives who have plenty more to give, and for Camden Fringe, Henry Moss is certainly one of them. His 40-minute show, Henry: Queen of Squats is still a work in progress but with material covering everything from film references, office jobs, the pandemic and a love of Judi Dench, there is plenty of room for expansion.
Moss’ biggest selling point is himself, and from the first moment he appears on the small Hens and Chickens Theatre stage the audience is captivated by his inclusive and honest style. To create instant rapport with a room full of strangers is the hardest job for a stand-up and Moss navigates this perfectly, setting-up a show in which he is as keen to mock himself as anyone else.
The topics are diverse and hilariously framed with many resonating with the largely millennial audience. There are sections on attending Britney Spears gigs with ‘bare minimum choreography’, describing the third lockdown as an ‘overlong art film’ to and trying to balance a soul-crushing office job with creative extra-curricular activities. A section about sending the perfect passive aggressive emails to colleagues is a delight, showcasing Moss’ fluency in ‘Mean Girl’.
Peppered with pop culture references from rom coms to Broadway and reality TV, a real and infectious love of performance runs through the show like the words in a stick of rock. At every opportunity, Moss incorporates some very skilfully performed satirical choreography as well as impersonations, varied song choices and re-enactments that delightfully tease the semi-seriousness of the profession, cheekily concluding that ‘one in three actors is a d*head’.
But the sections are disconnected, so there is some work to do on the show’s structure to find stronger links between the subject areas and changes of pace. This will create a continuous flow and help to build momentum as jokes pivot from one another. Anxiety is a useful overarching theme so building bridges back to that at key points during the show will also give it a tighter shape while leaving plenty of room for digression and improvisation.
At 40-minutes it is also quite a short set in its current form and there is scope to expand many of the sketches into longer sections, whether the misguided advice from parents, the scars of drama school or Moss’ ‘PhD in Sex & the City’ which underlies a very funny section on dating that, despite a fantastic reality TV meets rom com meets HBO series skit, doesn’t quite reach its conclusion.
Moss’ warm stage persona and sharp delivery are what make this such an enjoyable addition to the Camden Fringe, and Henry Queen of Squats is like having a scandalous gossip with a good friend. The writing is snappy and filled with astute observations about the challenges of the modern world so with a few tweaks to expand the existing content, the next iteration of this show will be unmissable. More Moss please!
Runs until 20 August 2021
Camden Fringe runs from 2 to 29 August 2021