I’ve been to more than my fair share of post-show Q&As. I’ve seen tipsy actors trying not to embarrass themselves, conversations chaired by a host who can’t stop fawning over their guests, auteurs trying to shoehorn their prepared anecdote into the answer for any question they’re given and stars bemused after being shuffled from place to place as they come to the end of another long media junket. Yet none of them have ever been as pleasingly chaotic and outrageously funny as Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead.
A laugh out loud, rip-roaring monster hit
The premise is that we, the audience, have just sat through a one man production of Frankenstein - all nine hours of it. It’s now time for the post-show Q&A and a fictionalised version of Morpurgo arrives on stage to greet his adoring public. He’s exhausted after playing all of the show’s characters (including, at one stage, a breakfast) but is humbly donating his time to answer questions from his ever-loving fans. He lounges back on his chair in a louche manner, clearly proud of the fact he is writer, producer, director, star and so much more in his extended version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Accompanied by a multi-media presentation, he is prepared to lap up the praise.
What follows is a hectic, fast paced laugh fest that rapidly increases in silliness as Morpurgo builds upon jokes upon jokes to reach ecstatic new heights of humour. There are the custom emojis, the regular questions from viewers using everyone from Twitter to Tinder to defunct messaging services, the musical Tim Shipman: Chartered Surveyor and there's even the way he makes Excel funnier than you could ever believe. In fact, there are too many brilliant jokes to mention.
Much of the humour comes from Morpurgo cleverly poking fun at the pretensions of theatre and the acting industry. Poorly managed crowdfunding campaigns that spiral out of control; an overly ambitious vanity project based on an important work of literature; an egotistical actor who gurns his way through a performance – is it starting to sound familiar, like so many terrible Fringe productions you’ve sat through before? The audience is drawn in to help, reading scripted questions that quickly wander off tangent. With this participation, Morpurgo masterfully creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes it even easier to enjoy. It’s intelligent satire, centred around an electrifying performance from Morpurgo himself, but most importantly, it’s hilarious.
Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead is a laugh out loud, rip-roaring monster hit. Now, did somebody say strudel?