David Reed: Shamblehouse

The first thing you notice is that David Reed really has created a Shamblehouse in the Pleasance. A carefully chosen random pile of furniture, frames and other clutter, covered in little lights, fills one side of the stage, while a large wardrobe dominates the other. When Reed enters, his perfectly paced wandering, apparently trying to remember what he is looking for in this mess of objects, his open collar and loose tie, and the sound of falling rain combines with the artful chaos of the stage to create a strong sense of loneliness, detachment and personal failure.This suits his characters, all of them pitiable and abandoned. A scene in which ‘Other Dave’, his more successful self, calls him from Los Angeles to ask him what he is doing turns him into one of these lost creations, an endearing acknowledgement of the step that he has taken in doing this solo show. The impression of vulnerability, however, is entirely artificial. His control of the space and the attention of his audience are beyond question. Whenever his characters enter into pure narrative he invokes a rapt silence, and on occasion draws laughs from the audience with little more than a glance. His voices are exemplary, and his impressions are, if not astounding, well observed and very freshly and amusingly presented. The presentation is so knowing as to almost seem a send-up of the whole concept of a character show.In fact, one might call the show a little indulgent. I cannot make the point strongly, as I cannot say with any clarity where the impression comes from, but there is a hint that Reed is enjoying the benefits of the good-will he has amassed, alongside Thom Tuck and Humphrey Ker (who have also brought solo shows to the Fringe), as one of the very popular Penny Dreadfuls. This may simply be because he is a charming and very likable man, who is enjoying the good-will that this would earn him anyway. It would be unfair to assume that the rest of the audience was drawn, like me, by a deep love for the Victorian sketch trio. He does, however, run the risk of being simply a little too bizarre in his material to succeed with an audience who are not on his side from the start.

The Blurb

David Reed's anticipated solo debut… a one-man sketch comedy show of new characters and stories. One-third of Fringe favourites ‘The Penny Dreadfuls’ (BBC2, BBC Radio 4). **** (List), **** (Metro), **** (Scotsman).