14/04/2019, The Albany, London.
I didn’t originally plan to review these two comedians because as crazy as it sounds sometimes I just like to watch comedy without my critics hat on. Plus they were both Edinburgh previews and in various different stages of development so it could be considered unfair to write about them when they may (and probably will) change an enormous amount over the next couple of months. But because I enjoyed them so much I wanted to write a few words about how strong both of these sets are, and how I have no doubt that both shows will be a must watch when the festival finally rolls round.
Out of the two Will Rowland’s Cocoon is the one which is clearly going to be modified the most, somewhat ironically as it’s a show which has the idea of change as a theme. A lot of the early routines began strongly but either didn’t have an ending or petered out a little and in the hands of a lesser comedian this might have been an issue, but Rowland has a laid back charm that won the audience over completely and so it didn’t matter in the slightest. What also helped is that the various tales had strong comic elements in them, from tales of how insane London life is compared to that of his mother’s peaceful existence in the Cotswolds to his early years with an often absent father and the antics they got up to when they were together.
Half way through the set he took a brief break and asked if anyone had any questions which led to a sweetly amusing interjection from an audience member about how funny she finds jokes about talking cats which Rowland incorporated in to the set with hilarious results. The final segment was absorbing stuff in general too as Rowland talked about his Dad, his (admittedly minor) issues with anger and his relationships with his mother and girlfriend. Even though the show needs a certain amount of work Rowland is undoubtedly a very funny comedian, and so I have no hesitation in recommending that people check him out even while he’s previewing his work, and definitely when it’s the finished piece.
David McIver’s Teleport is a completely different animal to Rowland’s show, though it’s equally as impressive, if not a little more so but that may be because it’s a little further down the line than Rowland’s is at the moment. With a framing device of the audience witnessing McIver as a fourteen year old playing an online role playing game called Rounds Of Warquest it includes a lot of audience participation as he involves the crowd within the game’s story. Taking on a variety of characters within the hour and ten minutes he was on stage it saw him bring the audience in to the Kingdoms of Ashgorn and help him out on his quest to find a cloak of invincibility.
As well as the ongoing tale of the game there are occasional interjections from his mother who (via audio) complains about his obsession with online gaming, but the meat of the show is his acting out meetings with various different strange individuals, all of whom are beautifully portrayed in all manner of daft ways. McIver at one point covers himself in oil, becomes an amulet which entailed draping himself over an audience member, portrays a character who was one of the earliest elements of the game and who’s AI is rather rubbish and invites an audience member to shoot him with a bow and arrow (or a toy one at least) and it’s gloriously silly and likeable stuff. There’s an emotional element to it too which needs polishing but otherwise I’ve no complaints and definitely plan to see McIver again post-Fringe when the show has been completely finished.
Normally I rate shows at the end of a review but again I feel that’s unfair as they were both work in progress’s. Yet while both comedians offered up very different styles of comedy they were equally as engaging and the afternoon showed off two notably impressive comic minds, and I’d be amazed if both don’t achieve a great deal of critical acclaim and a host of four and five star reviews when they perform at Edinburgh.