The Inane Chicanery of a Certain Adam GC Riches

Don't worry, I also had to Google most of the words in the title. I'll save you a bit of time:

Chicanery - ʃɪˈkeɪnəri/ - nounthe use of deception or subterfuge to achieve one's purpose.

You will scream – with laughter, with revulsion, with trepidation.

The audience enters to comedian Adam GC Riches sat on a spotlit chair, joyously miming along to upbeat jazz piano. The sheer energy and accuracy with which he pretends puts us at ease. We won’t be picked on – yet. But Riches is infamous for his hands-on approach to audience interaction, and this show is no exception: as soon as it started it was less ‘hands-on’ than ‘all limbs-on’.

Among the series of character sketches, Adam coerced us into shooting each other with a prop gun, writing a love letter, playing a mouth-organ (or as Riches would call it, a ‘gum guitar’), emulating bike tricks, and feeding him unappetising food. These descriptions might sound fairly innocuous, but Riches takes each to a surreal extreme. This is a very messy show – messy in that I pity the stage managers, not that the material was rough. For Riches is a masterly performer, and as supremely confident with his script as with his frequent ad libs. If anything, some of his riffing on from audience responses stole the show from his scripted gags, leaving some sketches deflated at their ends.

On the whole though, the audience appreciated his personalised approach. Afterwards I saw that those who were picked on had congregated outside, forming a kind of hysterical appreciation society – or perhaps it was a help group. In the multitude of slightly deadening Fringe shows, Riches will instead leave you feeling alive and rather deranged – no bad thing at all.

If Adam does use chicanery, it is that his wild confidence convinces the audience to play along with acts they would never do otherwise, and if his purpose is to get the whole audience squealing, he achieves it. You will scream – with laughter, with revulsion, with trepidation. Don’t sit in the front row if you’re squeamish. 

Reviews by Lily Lindon

Assembly George Square Theatre

David O'Doherty: Big Time

★★★★
Roundabout @ Summerhall

Scorch

★★★★
Underbelly, George Square

Fleabag

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Appropriate Adult

★★★★
Underbelly Med Quad

Joan

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Whoa. Momma. The 'ballsiest audience-interactor on the Fringe' (Telegraph) and 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner returns with a brand new hour of rip-roaring faff. 'Brilliantly funny... like playtime on cocaine' ***** (Chortle.co.uk). 'One of the most exciting comedians to be in a room with' (Times). ‘There's no-one else quite like him’ ***** (Independent). ‘A triumph of cunningly crafted, high-energy character comedy’ ***** (Time Out). ‘Will make you laugh yourself silly and what could be better than that?’ ***** (Telegraph). ***** (Scotsman).