When a show’s success or failure supposedly rests almost entirely on the skills and willingness of its audience, the trust and confidence placed between performer and viewer is terrifying from both directions. No non-improvised show at the fringe relies more on its audience than
Butt Kapinski is a technical marvel, endlessly imaginative and one of the most inventive and interesting experiences at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Butt Kapinski is an interactive comedy show about a detective. The detective, Butt Kapinski, is ghoulishly made-up, dressed in an ill-fitting (and incredibly designed) costume and rigged up to an overhead lamp to provide the murky streetlight atmosphere of film noir. It is truly a setup that has to be seen to believed and no matter how elaborate a description could not do it justice. It should be emphasised just how strong a performer Deanna Fleyscher, the woman behind Mr. Kapinski, is. Undoubtedly and unashamedly a clown, Deanna throws herself across the stage and around the room, bounding up to people and between seats, trying her best to include everyone. As a performer she easily warrants a five-star rating and is one of the finest physical comedians in Edinburgh this month, displaying this talent more than ever towards the end of the show where real confidence and commitment is required to pull of this show’s sting in the tail.
But this is a review of Butt Kapinski the show, not Butt Kapinski the performer and it is here in which the faltering element is found. As mentioned earlier, Butt Kapinski’s narrative is decided by the audience in a choose-your-own-adventure style and every other character in the story is performed by randomly selected audience members, each engaging in short improvised scenes with the detective in charge. The shows is made up almost entirely of these improvised moments and they vary greatly in quality depending on the confidence and clarity of the audience member approached. The style of response required from an audience member in this show is tricky as both too reserved and too eager come off as awkward to the crowd. Although in this particular performance we were blessed with a talented soundtrack artist and a few confident side-characters, every time the microphone is passed to a new audience member an awkward chill fills the room as we wait to see if this particular punter is funny or difficult to watch.
But Deanna Fleyscher is a skilled improviser and no matter the comment made by the audience member, she has a comeback ready and waiting in order to edge the story along. Butt Kapinski is a technical marvel, endlessly imaginative and one of the most inventive and interesting experiences at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For those who are okay with riding out some awkward moments, or those lucky enough to be blessed with a dearth of talented audience members, Butt Kapinski is a perfect Fringe show. Otherwise it is still a show that has to be seen to be believed, carefully crafted and filled with laughs. Be careful which one you choose, but make sure you get a seat in the theatre to watch Butt Kapinski while you still have the chance.