Ciaran Dowd: Don Rodolfo

Wed 1st – Sun 26th August 2018

reviews

Beatrix Swanson Scott

at 09:42 on 22nd Aug 2018

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With 'Don Rodolfo', Ciarán Dowd - member of the acclaimed sketch comedy group BEASTS - debuts his solo show at Edinburgh this year. In Pleasance Courtyard’s bite-sized ‘That’ space, he has a grand aim – to take the audience on a wild romp through the exploits of “the greatest swordsman the world has ever seen.”

The clashes of swords are heard as Dowd, dressed as a knock-off Don Juan in cheap ruffled shirt, jeans and cowboy boots, bursts backwards into the room, shouting ‘your mother’ jokes at the unseen retreating foes. What follows is an hour of comedy of indeterminate genre – though this is ostensibly a character comedy, some of the best moments are the one-liners that make it feel like a stand-up show. ‘Don Rodolfo Martini Toyota’ recounts his youth in 17th century Spain and the events that led to his current quest of womanising and derring-do to find and kill his nemesis, the six-handed man. A lot of interesting ideas are jumbled together here – Dowd contrasts the ultra-masculine stereotypes of his character with very camp moments, sprinkles contemporary references throughout an age-old tale, and makes use of humour both rude and intellectual. It does rather feel like it would have done better as a shorter sketch – the rogue, sex-and-wine fuelled anti-hero character can only provide so much material.

The best thing about 'Don Rodolfo' is probably Dowd’s ability to lampoon a well-known stock character with buffoonery and wit, and his sending-up of excessive masculinity and heterosexual male entitlement certainly feels very at home on the Fringe stage. However, the show feels like it never quite gets there. It also contains a few exasperating things unfortunately prevalent in Fringe shows – namely, needy requests for applause, and a concerted effort to make a particular audience member feel very uncomfortable, neither of which feels necessary. But who knows, perhaps the poor man was planted.

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