Nick Hall: Szgrabble!

Frantic, fun and frivolous, this fast-paced one-man show is an entertaining comic thriller of Cold War intrigue and Scrabble. In this laugh-a-minute production, Nick Hall mixes mime, narration and keyboard accompaniment to create a world of surreal events and bizarre characters. When Britain’s greatest Scrabble master is discovered having mysteriously strangled himself just three days before the world Scrabble tournament, M15 are at their wits end. London’s only hope rests with Arthur Fenchurch, a bumbling, asthmatic underling in the secret service stationery department, who is tasked with venturing across the Iron Curtain - dodging Russian snipers - to Budapest, to represent Britain against the Soviet Union in the world Scrabble competition.

Szgrabble is an undemanding and delightful hour of laughter.

With irrepressible energy - assisted by simple sounds effects - Hall leads his audience through a sequence of strange scenes: a clandestine rendez-vous on the roof of M15, a Scrabble training camp in deepest Siberia, a breakneck boat-chase on an Amsterdam canal, and so on. With each new setting, Halls leaps into a new set of characters. There is something slightly Izzard-esque in the pantomimed way he pivots back and forth, performing both sides of a dialogue - a resemblance probably strengthened by the adoption of such exaggerated accents and mannerisms. The humour straightforward, and sometimes predictable, but it works very well with the style of the show. Expect contrived jokes, bad puns, Cold War clichés and affectionate national stereotypes, and you won’t be disappointed.

At times the show feels chaotic and, as Hall struggles to cram the entire story into 60 minutes, we lose the well-polished precision of the first few scenes. However, his ease with the audience and his cheerful self-ridicule allow him to turn these imperfections into moments of comedy. Hall misses no opportunity to break the fourth wall to comment on his own performance, and these out-of-character moments provide some of the comic highpoints of the show.

Shamelessly silly from start to finish, Szgrabble is an undemanding and delightful hour of laughter.  

Reviews by Nuri Syed Corser

Summerhall

Green & Blue

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Play Before Birth

★★★
ZOO Playground

Landscape (1989)

★★
Summerhall

Who Cares

★★★★
Summerhall

Like Animals

★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Sea Sick

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Nick Hall brings his one-man Cold War thriller to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In this fast-paced, energetic and hilarious multi-character show, Nick brings to life a vivid world of spying, suspense, seduction – and Scrabble! As seen on BBC Two, BBC Three, and BBC Radio 4. 'Brilliant' (Times). ‘Side splittingly funny’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘Crackingly original’ **** (List). ‘One not to miss’ **** (Skinny). ‘Mad cap energy’ **** (BritishComedyGuide.co.uk).

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets