Review: Chris Turner: We’re Where We Were at Pleasance Courtyard  

Chris Turner’s latest show is one that truly has it all: easy laughs, cerebral wordplay, confessional moments, and two improvised freestyle raps so mind-bendingly flawless they feel scarcely indecipherable from a Derren Brown magic trick.

The show begins with Turner handing out bananas from barrel sized fruit bowl. Coming into the room with no preconceptions of what to expect, I wondered if this would be a harbinger of surrealist or slapstick comedy to come. Luckily it was neither; the bananas are a means of gathering up words and phrases from the audience that will be drawn together in the freestyle finale. The audience write delightedly on their bananas and do not go easy, offering up everything from ‘bankrupt Smurfs’ to ‘the eye of Sauron’. In a feat of wordsmith wizardry, Turner somehow spins this hodge-podge of gleeful scribbles into a cohesive narrative that rhymes in time with the beat and brings down the house. First though, we hear about L.A.

Turner speaks of life in L.A. with a mixture of bemusement and Joe Lycett-style vexation. The usual talking points – glass-fronted gyms, the endless obsession with appearance – are given new life by Turner’s charismatic and quintessentially English turn of phrase. He also shows that he is unafraid to go dark with a cynical analysis of American Football and a reference to gun violence that a comedian with less confidence might shy away from. Here, it works. Next Turner selects two members of the audience and asks them what they do they do for a living, using the answers to create the first free-style rap before launching into an analysis of specially commissioned German loanwords. Heckles from a German-speaking audience member allow Turner to improvise and react to the room with the skill of an old hand.

As we move toward the finale he ramps up the pithy observations and the laughs in the small room get louder. Looking around I realise that this is the Fringe holy grail: theatre-grade comedy in an intimate attic space. After rapturous applause we walk out, already compiling the list of who to recommend it to. Book this show in advance – it is sure to be a sellout.

Chris Turner: We’re Where We Were, Pleasance Courtyard, 14-26 Aug, 9.45pm

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