Edinburgh Fringe Review – Paul Foot, Dissolve, Underbelly Cowgate

Soho Theatre Run For Paul Foot
Paul Foot has been delighting Fringe audiences for years with his bizarre imagination and outrageous stories – exceptional for having only the slightest relation to reality as the rest of us know it.
So it is intriguing to hear that this show is unlike any Paul Foot has done before. It’s a personal story – which centres on an event at the beginning of this year which has changed his life forever.
Paul Foot fans will be happy to hear that they won’t be deprived of their dose of Paul Footness. He begins his set completely offstage – with a determinedly odd and slightly sinister story his mother supposedly told him as a child.
His mannerisms are as bizarre as ever. Foot nods and rocks on his heels and when he’s feeling particularly inspired, goes right up to audience members in the front rows to shriek in their faces in nonsensensical rage. When he lands a big laugh he scampers off with a naughty little smile and eyes twinkling with mischief.
Foot tells his central story in stages. From the start he says his life has changed forever, and for the better. But we don’t really know what has actually happened until the closing moments.
In trying to understand what’s happens he goes back to his childhood – to an event which changed his life in a bad way.
And for the first time ever he reveals the dreadful mental suffering which has always been behind his strange wonderful comedic mind.
I mean. We always knew. We the audience always knew there was something wrong – but as far as I know he has never ever spoken about it before.
Foot has never been one for manipulating the emotions of the audience – but you do sometimes wonder whether the whole story is going to be some sort of theatrical trick – and that the revelation he promises is going to vanish in an explosion of absurdity.
But he keeps going back to it – and he tells us the whole thing is really true and that he will tell us all.
Nonetheless this is still Paul Foot – for whom the word tangential is woefully inadequate.  So on the way we are introduced to his Brexit loving next door neighbour and asked to imagine a future revolution where all the worst things in the world are preserved.
There’s also a holdall on stage, full of bizarre slogans, which he can reach into if he needs a bit of material to lighten the mood.
When Foot finally tells us what has happened to him and why his world has changed for the better it is a sort of miracle.
He has told us the truth about his life and his suffering – and laid bare the superhuman effort he has been making to make us all laugh for all these years.
And when the good thing happened to him – he wanted to share it with us – even though it is not the sort of story you ever thought you’d hear him tell.
Comics really are special people. And from the audience there is a real feeling of gratitude and a standing ovation as our hero takes his bow.
Until August 27. Tickets here. Paul Foot is touring the autumn/winter - details here.
Read more reviews here.
Four stars


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