Review: Rob Kemp’s Wheel of Shows at Monkey Barrel

Rob Kemp found success with his first Fringe show last year, The Elvis Dead – a comedy show fusing together Elvis numbers with the classic horror movie, Evil Dead 2.

But now the pressure is on for Kemp to attempt to create the dreaded sequel. He fears becoming just another one-hit wonder and he’s torn between evolving his comedy beyond being the singing ‘film guy’ yet it’s where he struck gold the first time. This anxiety is essentially the main narrative of Wheel of Shows, if anything is to be gathered from its erratic and nonsensical nature.

Kemp truly has an impeccable stage presence. Dressed in a black and white Beetlejuice suit, he almost seems to channel the namesake’s deranged persona. The show is entertaining as it is odd – he self describes the show as “niche.” This begins to make sense as he attempts to mesh together John Carpenter’s 80s film The Thing with the TV show Blind Dates – plus some musical comedy for good measure.

Breaking the fourth wall to some degree, Kemp admits that, when creating this show, he was at a loss for inspiration. He dreams of a wheel of shows (the show’s namesake), which does make an appearance in a rustic fashion. The wheel almost stands as a symbol for Kemp’s desperate grab for inspiration. The show makes great use of its tech and props and, at one point, even reaches a surprisingly emotional crescendo before the finale.

It may seem like the show lacks a driving force, but that’s almost the point. Kemp himself finally declares he’s got nothing – his inspiration has failed him. Wheel of Shows is an enjoyable piece of alternative comedy, however might not be one for the masses, with it’s niche jokes and unusual structure. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most interesting hours at this year’s festival.

Rob Kemp’s Wheel of Shows, Monkey Barrel, 16-26 Aug, 1.15pm

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