Piccolo, Assembly George Square Gardens, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 20th August 2017
It’s a great title, and the show matches perfectly, in humour, clever construction, and knowing egotism. Marcus Monroe may be a juggler, but more importantly he is an entertainer, and this theatrical presentation deals with the price of selling out, the sacrifices made for success and, at the bottom of it all, a realisation of what really matters. It’s not a novel concept, but the formula works and is updated here to include the trials of trying to go viral in a digital marketplace.
Projections are smartly used to show Google searches and online elements of the story, and audience members ably assist in the filming of brooding Netflix documentary footage or wacky YouTube challenges. An earnest enthusiasm coupled with a seemingly simple intellect put Marcus’ portrayal of himself up there into Derek Zoolander territory. Except if Zoolander was a juggler. Obviously. The juggling skills themselves don’t reach any exceptional heights by world standards, but Monroe is fully proficient in a range of props and numbers that keep the audience oohing and ahhing (when not clapping or clutching their sides with laughter). As a comedian, he’s one of only 11 previous recipients of the Andy Kaufman Award, and his excellent delivery is charmingly off-beat.
The plot is well constructed – co-written with Josh Koenigsberg – and takes us on a journey from zero to hero, via JuggLife dreams and celebrity scandal, with redemption finally appearing in the form of shark-suited bedazzler and taper-of-things, PA Anna (Anna Aschliman).
I’ve had a number of wonderful surprise hits in the Assembly’s Piccolo venue over the last few years, and this is another success to add to the list. And yes, Marcus, you may take that as a pull-quote for your ‘brand’ 😉