While acknowledging his immense talent, some reviewers have accused Steen Raskopoulos of going through the motions, trotting out the same tired routines he's been spinning for years. I'd only ever seen Raskopoulos in BBC Three's
His ability to riff off, for example, a text message stream, or the responses of a line of 'art exhibits' is remarkable
Raskopoulos marches onto the stage in fatigues, a rangy, threatening drill sergeant with a severe haircut, barking at the audience in a Texan accent. Except, as he so often does throughout this marvellous show, Raskopoulos subverts expectations. His drill sergeant is nurturing and kind and his 'soldiers' – members of the front row – never faze him with their responses. Thereafter, we meet an endearingly pathetic young boy alone and abandoned at a dance competition, a suspicious DJ, a rap battle MC, an emasculated surgeon and any number of inspired creations.
He uses the audience – and not just the front row, I should warn you – more effectively than anyone I've seen at this year's Festival, but none of them were made to feel stupid or uncomfortable as far as I could tell. Indeed, one or two positively revelled as Raskopoulos's temporary co-stars. His ability to riff off, for example, a text message stream, or the responses of a line of 'art exhibits' is remarkable. He never hesitates, never misses a beat, his acute skills as an improviser coming to the fore.
Raskopoulos is an energetic stick, good looking and charismatic, a wonderful physical comedian and dancer, capable of inflecting the tiniest moment with the subtlest facial tic to extract the maximum response. This was close to genius but, more importantly, massively entertaining. If this is Raskopoulos going through the motions, I'd kill to see him when he isn't.