WOLF sounds like an overambitious premise – a blockbuster film noir, with a cast of over 30 characters and multiple settings, performed by one man with only a chair, a cheek microphone and some bicycle lights for props. Thankfully, Lewis Doherty’s debut solo Fringe show smashes all expectations. As for the actor, writer and comedian himself, Doherty gives a stunning, thrilling and mesmerising performance from beginning to end.
Doherty’s script concerns an ex-cop called Wolf, who returns to Shadow City to investigate the death of his former partner. There’s everything you would expect from a genre movie – bar fights, car chases, helicopters, guns and even a hilarious monologue about pasta. Doherty (a member of the underrated Laughing Stock) draws from TV, film and comic book influences to take the audience inside a murky world of crime and corruption. The actor provides 90% of the show’s sound effects to spectacular effect, and the physicality of his performance is exhausting to witness as he transforms into multiple characters – each with their own distinguishable voice and mannerisms.
Doherty performs feats you wouldn’t believe possible; a multi-person brawl and a car chase into a river as the protagonist is chased by a cyborg ninja assassin are two standout moments. Direction from John Hoggarth makes the show glossy, well-polished and efficient, with not a single second of the running time wasted. The musical cues are excellent and by the end of the show you will never be able to listen to Toto’s Africa again without flashing back to the moment it was used on stage.
WOLF is a tour-de-force of theatrical physicality, characterisation and humour. The actor’s precision, timing and storytelling are fantastic. The audience are transfixed throughout, absorbing every detail of the action. The smart, inventive parody has so many verbal and physical gags it’s an assault on the senses, but in a good way. The show is selling out consistently on word of mouth alone so make sure you catch it before Doherty becomes the massive star he deserves to be.