Phil Dunning

Thu 4th – Sat 6th August 2016

reviews

Becky Wilson

at 17:36 on 21st Aug 2016

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To this sober reviewer, Phil Dunning’s comedy lacks serious lustre. Consisting of woefully underdeveloped character comedy and blatantly obvious crudity, his Fringe offering would only be amusing to drunk people. Fortunately for Phil, with a start time of 11pm and the Pleasance bar a short stagger away, he has the perfect audience.

The most irritating thing about Dunning’s show is that he introduces us to a character, then almost immediately moves onto another one. Jackie, the Boots customer assistant (a character we have all undoubtedly encountered) has comic mileage, as does the timid George from Berkshire, whose ultra-posh cursing “botherbotherbother” is executed perfectly. But both characters are gone, before we can fully start to enjoy them. By building up then abruptly dismissing any genuine moments of comedy, Dunning strips his show of any coherence. It makes the hour feel completely empty and pointless. Either Dunning does not have the imagination to follow through with the initial concepts of these characters, or he thinks his audience have the attention span of five-year-olds, unable to concentrate on one idea for more than thirty seconds. Judging by his unoriginal employment of toilet humour and penis drawings, the latter well may be the case.

It must be acknowledged that Dunning exhibits some true comedic potential. His obnoxious heckles at the audience are spontaneous, and are well judged for this particularly boisterous crowd. And his physicality is completely spot on. I crack up at his portrayal of Debbie, a character new to the modelling world: her aggressive poses and abrupt wide-eyed pouts as she struts down the catwalk are heightened to genuinely terrifying levels of intensity.

But these brief, welcome glimpses of comedy are dominated by what is mainly a very lazy, unimaginative show. For the duration of the set, despite playing over ten different characters, Dunning’s pitch remains at the same tone of camp bitchiness. Rather than acting any differently, he therefore depends far too heavily upon wigs, half-hearted costumes and repetitive introductions. His often descend into vulgar banality, and some interesting ideas are laboured way past the point of laughter.

I would only recommend Phil Dunning’s show if your judgment has been so impaired by alcohol that you’re in the mood to find everything hilarious. Only through beer goggles will the £9 ticket seem worthwhile.

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Caragh Aylett

at 17:43 on 21st Aug 2016

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"Tell me what is your name, my name’s Phil". These nine words, which are sung throughout Phil Dunning’s performance, remain stuck in my head. I can’t quite decipher whether this is a good or a bad thing. The rest of the performance, however, I’m likely to forget pretty quickly. ‘Phil Dunning: The People’s Prince’ is certainly an interesting piece of theatre with its series of strange characters, but it isn’t memorable or significant.

The piece consists of a series of short characters. Each character sketch lasts for less than five minutes, and we are given a snapshot of many people’s lives. This is enabled through a series of wigs and quick costume changes. Dunning’s ability to embody each of these characters is impressive at first, but after a while the same deadpan stare begins to wear thin and I am left wondering whether there was anything different about the characters physicality at all. Equally, in some sketches the characters are presented through song which, again, is entertaining at first but the same slurry singing voice becomes repetitive and irritating.

Despite the monotonous singing and acting, the script is diverse. It presents all the characters in complex ways and this is certainly worth noting; it is simply that Dunning doesn’t execute each character successfully.

As you would imagine at an 11pm comedy show there is a lot of audience participation! If you’re not interested in slow dancing with Phil or becoming an array of Saharan animals then the front row is really not for you. The success of involving the audience is mixed. At the beginning the audience are keen to participate, but by Phil’s ‘conga’ sketch no one wants to join in. This leads to a slightly awkward and uncomfortable moment.

‘Phil Dunning: The People’s Prince’ is an interesting piece of theatre. While I would not choose to watch it and neither was I the target audience, others around me loved it. The audience laugh consistently throughout and while in parts I am really unsure what is funny, this certainly doesn’t mean that it is a bad piece of theatre. This late night comedy is interesting, unusual and funny, but I’d recommend that you have a few drinks before it begins.

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