John-Luke Roberts: Terrible Wonderful Adaptations

As a reviewer I'm fortunate enough to get free tickets to many shows. As it was the last Friday night of the Fringe I thought I'd invite some friends along to see John-Luke Roberts: Terrible Wonderful Adaptations. So I bought them tickets, we had a few beers beforehand and settled into the King Dome for an hour of absurdist cabaret from "an all-star cast of the Fringe's best comedians and worst idiots". Unfortunately I'd made a bad decision. After a decent opening from Roberts and his co-host the rest of the show was, for the most part, pretty boring. I wish I'd spent my £20 elsewhere. As I imagine did the guy sitting next to me who popped his headphones in and started listening to a podcast!

The guy sitting next to me popped his headphones in and started listening to a podcast

Frankly I expected more from a show at the Pleasance. It actually felt more like a Free Fringe variety night. The reviews for this literary cabaret have been good, and Roberts himself is an engaging performer who held the space fairly well. But it struck me that perhaps he's stretched himself too thinly, with a solo show and the daily Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (ACMS) night at the Monkey Barrel.

Obviously the point of the show is that comedy performers are invited to present a segment of a classically unadaptable text (last night it was Ulysses and Á la Recherche du Temps Perdu), so we're expecting the performers to fail in some respect, but not in the basic task of producing an engaging and entertaining three minute bit. Most of the acts felt like they hadn't made much effort, reading things off their phones, or simply repeating one gag until their three minutes was up. It felt messy, and not in an hilariously chaotic way. We had two Irish guys on stage drinking Guinness, a pair of underused musicians stood to the side (one of them filming the proceedings on his phone), and a lady at the back trying to make an audience member cry. At one point someone was invited on stage to eat an onion.

The performances weren't all bad though. Luke Rollason was charming and cheeky, scooting in on his Heelys with a Casio keyboard strapped to his arm and an extendable table tennis net in the other. Madeleine Bye of Siblings Comedy was also excellent, doing an "ART" piece and covering herself and the stage with cooking oil.

For me and my pals though, this show wasn't worth the ticket price, and I wish I'd spent my money elsewhere.

Reviews by Jim Ralley

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The Blurb

After 2017's catastrophic attempt to stage Francis Fukuyama's discredited political treatise, The End of History, John-Luke Roberts returns with an all-star cast of the Fringe's best comedians and worst idiots to present three more adaptations of unadaptable texts. Texts adapted to include the iTunes Terms and Conditions; post-structuralist Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse; and double edition: Ulysses and Á la Recherche du Temps Perdu, (couldn't decide between them). Check Pleasance website for details.