Daniel Rigby returns to the Fringe this year with a sketch show that certainly lives up to its name. Berk in Progress has a messy, chaotic charm and the imagination behind its craftsmanship is definitely worth witnessing.
The sketches are completely random – ideas fabricated from God knows where – and the set-ups in themselves are often hilarious before they’ve even begun. Topical references are strewn around and political incorrectness is neatly toyed with. There’s a lot of awkwardness, the odd apology from Rigby for his sweaty forehead and a lot of laughs. The scenes vary in strength but the more average ones are made up for by others, which are mind-blowingly fantastic. Rigby thrives off the absurd and, in Berk in Progress, so do his audience.
He works with two accomplices – ‘sort of wonderbots’ as he terms them – who aid him in constructing the different worlds of boy band BNP and Santa’s mafia empire, but it is Rigby’s persona which is, without a doubt, the star of the show. His acting is flawless and his comic timing perfect. Bumbling interludes are made a great joke by the incomprehensively quick-fire snaps into character beginning each scene and Rigby’s relaxed and conversational stage manner makes each cameo even more extreme. Commendation also needs to be awarded to some truly innovative dance routines: Rigby brings magnificent choreography to the table, performed with an admirable fearlessness.
This show is not slick or by any means perfect but it is packed with some real gems. Everyone in the audience was rather surprised when the show finished because nobody knew that an hour could move so fast. Berk in Progress is a stage performance that does sketch comedy in a way that television will never be able to achieve. No screen can produce something so stuffed with unpolished charisma and personal appeal.