This show is reviewer proof. Not because of the exceptionally long title that can’t fit into most editing boxes, not because it’s only on once and thus the review can have no effect during the festival itself and not even because the show’s reputation is so mysterious that people are going to go and see it anyway. This show is review proof for the simple fact that there is nothing more to it than the title. Seriously. That’s it. This show literally involves someone dressed as a gorilla who sits in a rocking chair for nearly an hour. Nothing else.
See this show. Just do it.
The show doesn’t present itself as anything more than it is. It’s almost genius in a way, essentially boiling down to one massive joke at the audience’s expense. “It can’t literally just be someone sitting there”, we tell ourselves as the lights dim and the eponymous young man takes his place. But as the initial laughter and cheering dies down, we come to the horrible realisation that we were wrong. The joke’s on us. This is it.
It’s at this point the show really begins. The 56 minutes are largely filled with the audience’s attempts to entertain themselves. People heckle and make jokes, set up arbitrary divisions between the right and left sides of the audience, quote Mean Girls and even do the occasional Mexican wave. It’s like a kind of performance art, or a devious social experiment: put a large concentration of Fringe-goers in one room with a gorilla on a rocking horse and see what happens. Oddly enough, in this strange, almost surreal environment, the show becomes alive. With the stage giving us nothing, even the smallest actions of the audience take on a greater weight. People standing up, leaving to get drinks or just simply leaving the show received cheers, applause and boos in equal measure. It began to feel like we as an audience were creating our own show, with its own characters and plots such as the American who kept shouting “shut up!”, the man with the annoying laugh or the over-eager and enthusiastic return viewers.
It’s obvious to say that the show’s greatest selling point is also its Achilles heel. If there’s a bad audience then there’s a bad show, but on my particular visit there was hardly a dull moment. I became more engrossed in a person moving a constantly rocking gorilla to an area of the stage not facing me than I have been at some of the comedy shows I’ve seen during the festival.
See this show. Just do it. It’s an experience not unlike temporarily joining a cult that worships a slow-moving ape in a chair for an hour, and just like a cult it’s engrossing, insane and will leave you both bewildered and exhilarated when you finally leave.