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Fringe Review: Wingman - Pleasance Dome ✭✭✭✭

Review by Anna Ireland

Father and son conflict? Dead mum? Ashes carried around in a pink jar? If I told you the rundown of Wingman, it may appear far from funny (particularly the urn stuff – more on that later).

Last year’s Fringe First winner with Dirty Great Love Story and BBC Audio Drama award-winnercomedian and poet Richard Marsh returns to the Pleasance Dome with his latest offering, and it does not disappoint.

Weaving its way through a time frame that sees death, pregnancy and the decanting of ashes in a rubbish dump,Wingman explores all that it means to be family, however messy and unconventional. This path is enhanced by Marsh’s witty lyricism as the character of Rich, allowing a morbid topic to become light.

The interaction between Marsh and his roguish father, played with satisfying gruff by Jerome Wright, is touching and comical in equal measure. After his mother dies, the two areforced to reunite and overcome their differences in the quest to bury her ashes. Following a surprise pregnancy at the hands of Rich, father and son bond over the new child that has entered the world (leaving the hospital he sees ‘sunshine, or it could be daughter-shine?’). Thus, the two become inextricably linked, with both seeing each other at their highest and lowest. There are Welsh jokes, faeces jokes and a suitable amount of mimed nudity.

Rich follows a path full of mistakes and self-deprecation, the delivery is one of endearing perfection. Marsh’s humour lends perfectly to this format, delivering emotion-laden lines followed by dead-pan one linersIn directing much of his annotations in poetic formata clever and sarcastic narrative is created that doesn’t labour the rhyme but allows it to blend with the humour. This narrative often interrupts the speech, allowing us to laugh continuously as conversations between the two develop.

The dialogue flicks between touching and humorous lines with bravado, seen where he chastises his father, ‘Dad, Mum is not a rattle’ whilst his Dad shakes the urn of her ashes at the babyIt is testament to this fact that an urn containing his mother’s ashes manages to become an appealing and sentimental momentumwith its fate in the garbage epitomising the message of the show; relations can be disastrous, but at the end of the day, we’re stuck with them, for better or worse.

People were clamouring to buy Marsh’s collection of plays post-show, and you can see why; clever, grim and comical, it is full of well-written humour enhanced by its poetic nature. Glorifying the pitfalls of family life, the writing sparkles with wit in this sentimental yet irreverent play. And the delivery is excellent. It’s a hard line to cross, that of death and the comedic, but it’s one the duo tread well.

Wingman is on at 14:10 in the Pleasance Dome (venue 23) until 25th August. For tickets and information visit: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/wingman

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