Is high-concept comedy that relies heavily on a projector screen and well-timed sound effects the new black? That’s what Joseph Morpurgo might have you wondering after his multimedia extravaganza, in which he plays an eccentric actor hosting a post-performance Q&A session.
Hammerhead is immersive beyond belief. The persona Morpurgo adopts is so convincing that you may be surprised when you suddenly remember this is not, in fact, a question-and-answer session with a man who starred in a 9-hour stage adaptation of Frankenstein: it’s just a genius, meticulously crafted comedy experience. Morpurgo’s acting skill, blended with the use of digital images and lighting, brings together an outrageously funny and cleverly nuanced spoof that’ll have you totally invested.
As “questions” are received from the audience and (fake) online viewers, the show takes a turn for the bizarre. There are short musical numbers based around the life of a middle-aged surveyor (weird), extracts from the multi-character play that fake-actor Morpurgo supposedly performed in by himself (weirder), and a DJ set by Samuel Beckett (THE WEIRDEST).
Somehow, though, it all makes sense. It comes together.
With props galore and superb execution, this over-the-top show deserves plaudits for its originality and elaborateness. Morpurgo isn’t trying to teach you any great lesson (except maybe that even actors in fake Mary Shelley reworks can have uncontrollable egos). Your duty as an audience member is simply to sit back and enjoy this inventive, chaotic, spotlight-drenched spectacle.
Words: Morgan Laing
Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 6-28 (not 14), 8pm