Brett Goldstein is now four years clean… of porn. In this nicely-flowing hour, he uses his former addiction, and a recent break-up, to ponder the nature of love, and whether he, as a drawn-to-drama creative type, is capable of the kind of slow-build, unexplosive relationship which can go the distance.
Although it’s meat-and-drink subject matter, Goldstein plays it well, giving it enough of his own personal spin that it doesn’t feel stale. He ploughs the middle ground here between Edinburgh grand concept hour and a traditional hour of observations. Oedipal musing about his beautiful mother acts as a through line, and there’s a call-back finale of sorts, but the show doesn’t reach for some big reveal or twist, and is none the worse for that. It arrives here, first day of the Fringe, feeling sharp and road-tested, but not self-consciously try-hard.
He chucks a dark one in early to test the mood – while considering his own improvisational approach to relationships, he re-imagines the Nazi atrocities as an improv game. Some of the pornier moments verge on bleakness too, delivered in the manner of a man who’s seen things he’d rather forget. It’s not a shock hour by any means, but it does give proceedings a slight edge and not everyone will respond well to it.
Another segment considers the embarrassment of being a minor TV personality (he played Tom in Derek) in an STI clinic. Again, Goldstein manages to lift it above a standard medical awkwardness routine by the winning delivery.
But this low level stardom also begins to take the observational material out of our reach. The ex that’s sparked this life appraisal is a film producer he met in New York, with a little black book full of A-list male celebs. And although he uses this well for some self-deprecating put-downs about his relative lack of fame, he’s still falling between two stools here. He’s not celeb enough for us to revel in a showbiz gossip-fest, but there’s too much name-dropping for the material to survive as everyman relationship worries. Not all of us have Dave Grohl as a potential love rival. It feels a little like a cool band doing an album about the trials of being in a cool band.
A couple of set-ups require him to explain therapy jargon. The resultant jokes just about pay their way, but it does break up the rhythm a touch. It is also another distancing factor, a reminder that break-ups in his circles are more hire-a-therapist than binge-drink-and-comfort-eat.
Despite this, you’re always with him throughout the hour, and you’re never far away from a throwaway line you’re not expecting. A reasonable-sized first night crowd deservedly give him a good hand on the way out. In fact, the only major complaint is that despite the musical numbers that top-and-tail the show, poor old Haddaway doesn’t make an appearance.