We’ve all made mistakes, but who among us can say they have had such an impact as to change the course of history? Historian and comedian Paul Coulter regales five such instances that landed some of the most famous individuals in the history books in his one-man show 5 Mistakes That Changed History.

Hosted in the Crate, Coulter opens the show with a tale from their own childhood, relating it to the concept of primary and secondary sources. Even if you aren’t a history nerd you will still understand the concept that everyone has their own side to every story. This we are told is the job of a historian, to gather the sources and try and find the truth. From there we dive into our tales of mistakes, ranging from Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of the mould that would one day become penicillin, to Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian who ignored the Titanic’s cries for help. A grave error indeed.

There is some crowd participation where we are encouraged to choose which tale we want to hear at the half-way point which breaks up the hour nicely. The crowd are in good spirits and full of self-professed history lovers. Although the facts were more generalised it is impressive just how much material Coulter managed to memorise and pepper with cheeky present-day anecdotes, mostly aimed at our current political climate.

By the end the show did teeter into the more family-friendly comedic style with the arrival of a surprise special guest which resulted in a call back to our host’s own tale. While this was a nice personal story it did feel a bit shoe-horned in and the show would have stood absolutely fine without the added extra guest. Tying a show about historical figures together can be difficult, so perhaps it would be more beneficial to either lean more into the family-friendly style or not at all. Still, the show does exactly what it says on the tin, and during the Fringe that makes this a worthy venture for any history connoisseur.

5 Mistakes That Changed History runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Assembly George Square – The Crate at 11:50