It’s the oldest story in the book: boys meets girl, girl leaves boy a cryptic message, boy assembles an expensive stage production, hires a seven-piece band and puts on the sweatiest show at this year’s Fringe in a haphazard but ultimately heart-warming attempt to win her over. As one half of comedic duo Goose (the other half is co-writer Ben Rowse), Adam Drake throws bags of energy and tidal waves of perspiration at this production, making it a resounding success.
While Drake’s infectious dynamism is one of the key strengths of the show, it’s also based upon a solid script, a tonne of throwaway gags and an impeccable sense of comic timing. It’s a one-man show, but Drake flits restlessly between characters, bringing caricatures of actor Liam Neeson and author Dan Brown along to help him on his quest. He also enlists the aid of hapless audience members when and where he can, and while such participation sometimes feels forced and uncomfortable, Drake turns that very nervousness into positive energy.
It’s self-referential and self-deprecating, drawing attention to any flaws or complaints we might have before they become apparent, thus rendering them powerless, while the laugh-a-minute script crams more gags into a show than any other you’re likely to see. Indeed, such harum-scarum comedy can be a little confusing at times and the slipshod narrative threatens to run loose in places, but the rapid and unrelenting nature of the jokes means that the show would have excellent repeat value. Much like something as cleverly devised as Arrested Development, viewers can pick up on nuances they missed first time round, simply because it passed them by too quickly.
The predictably cloying finale most definitely comes with extra servings of cheese, but seeing as how Drake has himself telegraphed it far in advance and had the gall to ask for a standing ovation because of it, we can do nothing but oblige. For a multi-layered comedy that works on physical, intellectual and (to a lesser degree) emotional levels, Goose: Hydroberserker is a hugely underrated stand-out show of the Fringe.