Sam Goodburn: Dumbstruck

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Helen Chatterton

at 13:30 on 9th Aug 2017

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Taking the phrase ‘comedy of errors’ to a whole new place is Sam Goodburn in his mostly mime based comedy show, ‘Dumbstruck’. Based on the premise of a boy during “The Morning After”, he finds himself in scrape after scrape, eventually rendering the set in a state of complete disarray.

Goodburn is a modern clown, previous winner of the Circus Maximus Prize for the UK’s best clown, and the show was directed by famous clown Fraser Hooper. Throughout the show, he undertakes a range of typical clown skills, such as unicycling, juggling and knife throwing, mostly without any dialogue, but Goodburn completely reinvents the art forms, placing him firmly in a new era of circus talent.

At times the show made me feel nervous, such as when Goodburn balanced a china bowl on the peak of his cap, seconds after a previous bowl fell from the same position to smash on the floor, it was nevertheless highly entertaining. It would have been easy for Goodburn to fall into repeating the same kind of thing for an hour, but the pace of the production is swift, and there is always a new spectacle to behold. The production benefitted from a well-rigged set including a pop on-demand toaster and collapsible lamp.

In true clown fashion, as an audience member I was never entirely sure whether some “mistakes” were intentional or just for dramatic effect. Either way, they were very funny. Goodburn is also obviously a very talented performer. A skill that particularly stood out was his use of his unicycle, as never before have I seen someone ride one lying on their front using their hand to propel the wheel, which is now without pedals. In the closing moments, Goodburn takes to his unicycle again to achieve one more feat, which is both impressive and nerve-wracking.

In said finale, Goodburn extracts a member of the audience to fill in as an additional character. Goodburn coached his victim very well, and later had him pretending to be a lampshade. Stood next to Goodburn, who by this point is smeared in Nutella, they make quite the pair.

In a sense, Goodburn’s performance was a nice return to the comedy of childhood, as everything was plain silly in what is was, regardless of its professionalism. Subsequently, the production seemed popular with the entire audience, regardless of age.

‘Dumbstruck’ is unequivocally delightful in its values, and has the added benefit of not involving the scary makeup of traditional clowns. It may not rock the world, but the show is certainly good fun and well worth taking a trip to Cowgate for. This may be one of Goodburn’s first shows, but I imagine he will be back at the Fringe next year.

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Claire Louise Richardson

at 13:52 on 9th Aug 2017

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‘Dumbstruck’ advertises Sam as an ‘endearing dork’, and this is a fair interpretation of the character that is portrayed in this one-man comedy act. The show evokes elements of the TV programme ‘The Inbetweeners’, as Sam is said to be exploring his ‘first steps of adulthood’, here through daft slapstick comedy set in a house. We see him rip a bra, and awkwardly handle phone conversations with a girl, much to the amusement of the audience. It is not spell-binding, but it is light hearted, silly, and fun, and you would most likely have an enjoyable hour sat watching this show.

This is certainly an excellent show for a young audience, and the front row of younger viewers were in peals of laughter during one particular scene. Sam is trying to catch the toast as it pops from the toaster, by throwing a knife to pin the toast to the wall. He has war stripes of Nutella on his face, a tea towel bandana on his head, and the the sound of wolves howling plays over the scene. A whole variety of crazy events occur with whatever objects are in the house - this is a clear sign that our friend, Sam, is able to draw laughter from whatever anything around him. What holds these fragments of comedy together is the music that accompanies the piece, and suits the mood of whatever action Sam performs. By the second half the show focuses less on the narrative and more on the physical comedy, which is actually more interesting.

The show is rather slow to get started and some of the comedic elements earlier on are not as funny as they are later. Perhaps a few bigger and better gags, such as Sam’s incredibly funny use of the unicycle in the second half, need throwing into the mix earlier on in the sequence. There are also moments when Sam makes mistakes and it is not clear if this is due to poor execution, or it is just part of the ‘endearing dork’ persona. Nevertheless, intended or not, it is still entertaining, and the audience are certainly rooting for Sam to succeed; such as when he is balancing a bowl on his head, one footed on a unicycle, trying to pour Shreddies into the bowl.

Overall, the act might need some polishing in certain areas, but it is light-hearted and a classic show of good, wholesome fun. The show feels very intimate, and it is as if the audience could be sat in Sam’s own living room – he drags you away from Edinburgh and into his own little world for his daft afternoon of fun.

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