There are always a plethora of acts at the Fringe who propose an alternative take upon the comedy formula and none more so than Sean Morley, who made a big statement last year with his show I Apologise For My Recent Behaviour at the Dragonfly, laying the seeds as a cult comic fast on the rise. Transferring this year to the dank cave of The Hive befits Morley’s 2019 show to a tee. Dressed as the ancient monarch, Nebuchadnezzar, Morley greets the incoming crowd from behind the tech desk, a not so subtle hint that we’re in for a surrealist ride.
The opening section is an excellent piece of fantastical and supernatural theatre that sees the rebirth of Nebuchadnezzar’s bones risen from the ground and threat to walk the earth again, with a Midland’s twist. It’s a well constructed, written and unique opener that is masterfully executed, highlighting what a special talent Morley is.
What follows feels like a left turn from the twisted comical folklore opener into a philosophical debate as Morley asks the audience if we could ever be friends with a baby? A key component of Morley’s show last year was the aura he exudes to command an audience’s attention. This section replicates that but because there is a demand for audience participation it feels disruptive to the drive generated by the introduction. Morley is always in control and showcases fantastic wit whenever the opportunity is presented. But this section feels like you’re watching someone drive a car without having their hands on the steering wheel. Yes, it’s mildly tense, but it feels like there’s too much of the comedian showing that he’s a lot smarter than the audience than trying to provide something that is geared to being outright hilarious, which he is very capable of doing and exhibits in the show on several occasions. In saying that, whilst he elevates his show with heavy doses of cerebral thinking, there’s always a daft turn around the corner.
In the closing section, Morley returns his hands to the wheel and falls firmly back into the role of the comedian rather than a confident and quirky philosophy lecturer. As with a lot of comedy shows at the fringe, Morley examines the expectations of audiences and what they demand from the performers. Sometimes these sound like a bitter stab towards the industry and what is perceived as popular, but it’s safe to say that today’s audience are very much a fan of Morley’s brand. An excellent piece of misdirection brings together Morley’s mischief, intellectual babble and penchant for the bizarre. He may well play havoc with audience minds, but you’ll have an excellent time in him doing so.