Review: Ian Smith: Craft at Underbelly Bristo

Ian Smith’s Craft is finely honed, the care which has obviously gone into his show disguised by his loveable Yorkshire lad persona.

He opens the show with a repeated gag which in the hands of an amateur would be tiresome, but which Smith swears he once spun out for a full ten minutes – and I can believe it.

Like many Fringe shows, Smith seems to feel obliged to set up some grand premise for the show. In this case, he centres the hour around origami paper cranes (the “craft” in the show’s title) but fortunately doesn’t stick to it slavishly. Where he really shines is in skipping from observational skit to observational skit, churning out relatable anecdotes, and his charming talent for audience interaction and on-the-fly routine changes. At one point, he manages to take a missed set up and turning it into gales of laughter through simple, disarming honesty.

As has been the case in previous years, the performance is a somewhat multimedia affair. There’s a projector used for images, videos, ‘livestreaming’ sections, and so on. Normally this would be gimmicky, and in places, particularly the aforementioned livestreaming sections, it does hamper the pace and slightly disrupt the cosy atmosphere, but overall it’s used judiciously and skilfully; one can almost see Smith saying, “why put one joke on the screen when I can pack in three?”

The only dead duck of the show is a running joke which doesn’t quite jive with the friendly mien Smith otherwise projects, but even that comes to fruition in the end. Highly recommended, except for those set off by origami, anxious train station announcers, and wishes.

Ian Smith: Craft, Underbelly Bristo, 7-26 Aug (not 13), 5.15pm

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