Wingman

This chuckling two-man verse-play charts part of the life of a TFL office worker trying to navigate life’s rocky road after the death of his mother and reappearance of his father. The push and pull of family relations, the difficulty of forgiveness, the struggle not to emulate your parents; Wingman is both intriguing and comfortably familiar, peppered with striking imagery alongside its confident string of jokes, while its subtle rhythms and rhymes coax itself into your ear with ease.

Whether or not the show is partially autobiographical is not overly pressing, but the question lingers and is one of many things that will keep you mulling over the comfortably teasing script.

Written by London Slam Champion Richard Marsh, the script has a permanent wry smile. Continually funny and often moving, this show always makes sure to keep its poignancy in check. Richard’s everyday haphazards come across like a light-hearted mockumentary, never too exciting or excessive to distance itself from the funny stupidities of real life. Arms broken during childish games, unfortunately reliable rubbish-collecting, the folly of misplacing your loved one’s ashes – Marsh’s script is full of these old and realistic comic tropes, which do tend to give the plot a stable structure rather than rendering it too old-hat. Some more original storyboarding, though, might have been beneficial.

As a narrator, Marsh is dryly self-deprecating, continually poking fun at both his actions and his own poetic language. His wonderful puns and wordplay are often all the more endearing for their occasionally conscious artificiality. He expertly treads the line between playing his character and seeing him from a short distance, and the role’s self-aware bathos serves the show very well. Wingman refuses to clearly differentiate between the actor Richard Marsh and his identically-named character; Marsh himself refrains from clarifying this even in person, preferring to let the work speak for itself. Whether or not the show is partially autobiographical is not overly pressing, but the question lingers and is one of many things that will keep you mulling over the comfortably teasing script.

When it comes to the acting, the actual performance, Marsh and his co-actor perform the lines sufficiently, and do justice to its well-crafted dialogue, though they don’t do that much more than this. Wingman watches like a rehearsed reading, and putting scripts in the men’s hands would not have altered it much. But this is a small criticism for a piece that never fails to inspire laughter through its wit and emotional intelligence. An enjoyable, well-spent hour.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

Pleasance Dome

Police Cops in Space

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Frankie Vah by Luke Wright

★★★★★
Summerhall

A Hundred Different Words for Love

★★★★★
Bush Theatre

Guards at the Taj

★★★★★
Camden People's Theatre

Beta Public V

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A new father-son comedy from Fringe First winner Richard Marsh. Mum’s dead. Annoyingly, dad’s not. After twenty years apart, can father and son say goodbye to mum without saying hello to each other? This achingly funny story reminds us: no matter how bad life is, family can make it worse. Previous shows: Dirty Great Love Story (Fringe First winner, co-written with Katie Bonna), Skittles and Love & Sweets (Best Scripted Comedy, BBC Audio Drama Awards 2014). ‘Lovely, witty, delicious… Warmly and fuzzily recommended’ ***** (Independent). ‘Restores your faith in human nature and the Fringe… bliss’ **** (Telegraph).