The Box, Assembly George Square Theatre, Edinburgh
Alfie Brown exudes promise. He’s seething with potential brilliance, and some of this uneven set is genuinely great. There’s real ambition on show here; this is not a cosy, resting-on-the-comedy-laurels kind of gig at all. And when it works, it really works.
Brown has an engaging intensity; he clearly sees comedy as a vehicle for challenging perceived wisdoms, and pushes himself (and the audience) to think beyond the obvious. He never seems to go for the easy laugh – even when, quite honestly, it might help the show along. There are some routines, such as the brutally honest tale of his relationship with Jessie Cave, where he is in total command of his material, and the audience responds really well. But the set lacks a coherent structure, and peaks and troughs in odd places. The final section, an attempt to discuss political posturing and the pointlessness of preaching to the converted, has the makings of a fine routine, but is derailed somewhat by the audience’s reluctance to answer his question about our own political views (I, in fact, did volunteer a response, but I was the only one), and never really recovers from this, failing to reach any sort of conclusion, or even provoke a lot of thought. Still, I’d rather watch this ambitious young comedian experiment with an idea that doesn’t quite come off, than sit through an hour of safe crowd-pleasing with someone better-known (and there’s a lot of that about, of course).
Take a chance; give him a go. I think he will be really big one day.