Paul Zerdin: Sponge Fest

Say what you will about ventriloquists, there’s no denying their talent. And Paul Zerdin has to be one of the best of the bunch. His wit, vigour and inventiveness means his act is always entertaining, if not always hilarious.The first character he introduces is Sam, a cheeky, and occasionally foul-mouthed, little boy who challenges the audience to a staring match before going on to display Zerdin’s astonishing skills. The speed at which he can mix his voices is no more evident than when he performs a simultaneous duet with Sam. Zerdin’s puppetry embues his dummy with genuine life and I found myself entranced by the puppet and not the man.Unfortunately, the next two characters Zerdin has are funny because they don’t understand or can’t hear what he’s saying. This meant all that fabulous energy that had been built up suddenly dissipated and the jokes, which are not the freshest for a ventriloquist, became a little more predictable and fell a little flat. And, perhaps more problematically, his character voices all sound very similar, which causes new characters to lose some of their novelty almost immediately.The double-header finale, however, is one of the most technically impressive things I’ve seen on the Fringe, not to mention searingly funny. And it’s here that Zerdin’s charm and intelligence really come to the fore, carrying the show beyond a vaudevillian piece out of its time, and into the 21st Century. To say anymore would ruin the surprise in store for you, but trust me: you’re not expecting this.If it weren’t for that middle twenty minutes when the pace drops, this show would have been a five-star performance. But, as it stands, Zerdin either needs to develop some new voices or strengthen his material. Because it’s a terrible shame that these things should compromise an act that is as hilarious as it is technically accomplished.

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The Blurb

As seen on not one, not two, but three Royal Variety Performances, join the UK's no-1 ventriloquist plus Sam, Albert and Baby. Book early! 'Brilliant' (Evening Standard). 'A ventriloquist for the "South Park" generation' (Stage).

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