Joseph Morpurgo: Odessa

Joseph Morpurgo’s epic, sprawling opus opens with a montage of a VHS recorded presentation of early ‘80s TV adverts and news reports from the city of Odessa, Texas. From these little nuggets of retro gold, Mopurgo spins what has to be one of the most bizarre, innovative and tear-inducingly hilarious comedy routines I have seen at the festival.

A bonkers, brilliantly twisted comedy show that gives him ample opportunity to show his talents as an actor and a comedian.

Morpurgo portrays the fictional tale of rookie police sergeant, Maria Alair, as she battles against sexual discrimination in the workplace whilst uncovering the truth behind a mysterious fire. The show uses multimedia, music and audience interaction to move the story on ingeniously, as Morpurgo springs out a variety of outrageous characters. A devilishly dark, creepy tone dominates proceedings and on more than one occasion I was reminded of the more comedic aspects of Twin Peaks; this is David Lynch-style Americana but with added laughs. Morpurgo’s performance throughout the hour is nothing short of astonishing, creating vivid characters at a speedy rate whilst the story gets increasingly more bizarre.

Even as the story spirals off down further absurd routes the gag rate remains high and Morpurgo’s energy is the driving force. It almost goes a little too far - somewhere towards the midpoint a ‘video static creature’ routine is almost too much in terms of weirdness but as soon as we get back to Alair’s storyline the story is back on track. It all comes to a head in a fantastic nod to the always grandiose conspiracy theories that have been a commonplace in smalltown America.

Morpurgo’s show is unlike anything I have ever seen at the festival; he has crafted a bonkers, brilliantly twisted comedy show that gives him ample opportunity to show his talents as an actor and a comedian. The audience becomes sucked up into this unpredictable chaotic world through some unique and original moments of interaction that for me were the highlights of this frantic, creative and atmospheric comedy nightmare.

Reviews by Stewart McLaren

Online at (with Traverse Theatre)

City Of the Blind

Northern Stage at King's Hall

Milk Presents: Self Service

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Haggis Haggis Haggis

Institut français d'Ecosse


Traverse Theatre





The Blurb

It's 1983 and the buildings are burning. Joseph Morpurgo emerges, petrol-sodden, from the wreckage. Laden with found footage, forgotten characters and other relics from an imagined past, Morpurgo drags each of us into the depths of his comic fantasia. Batten down the hatches, Morpurgo’s back! Taking snippets of old VHS recordings, Morpurgo extrapolates on, deduces from and triumphantly artefactualises a discarded past. With a fistful of bizarre and surreal characters, Morpurgo connects the dots between the crackle and fuzz and delivers a poignant tribute to a world of people who never existed. 'Hugely innovative' **** (Time Out).