Treading the fine line between stand-up and character comedy, Adrian Gray’s ‘truth theorist’ was pleasingly well-developed, and delivered some truly uproarious lines. However, whilst he was indulged by an obviously friendly and possibly tipsy audience, some of his jokes fell undeniably flat.
This was not, it should be noted, half-baked student stand-up. Gray is a seasoned former Footlight, and channelled this experience into a fully realised character – his creepy yet surprisingly charming conspiracy theorist alter-ego. Surprising depth of character was achieved, and it was certainly interesting to see portrayed an excitable, frustrated creeper so typical of the murky corners of the internet.
Yet this strength of character at times worked against Gray. Slow sequences of character driven jokes often felt more tragic than comedic, and especially towards the end a fairly depressing scene did not yield the release I was hoping for. A narrative arc in which his conspiracy theorist began to doubt his theory, before convincing himself of an even more absurd one, is bitingly truthful about the nature of the internet – yet failed to hit its comic notes and would perhaps be more effective as drama.
In contrast, by far the strongest moments were the rapid-fire gags involving swearing, James Bond’s penis and hilarious overreactions, which had me in stitches. This extravagant vulgarity was complemented nicely by Gray’s proficient use of physical theatre, throwing himself across the stage, and his mostly effective use of video. A recorded cast of characters, all with radically different versions of his theory, again spoke to the absurd nature of the internet, though with considerably more comic success.
The audience were certainly satisfied by Gray’s offering. An older crowd, whom I suspect knew Gray from the comedy scene, laughed consistently throughout. Perhaps helped by drinks from the bar (the smell of which permeated the theatre) the crowd buoyed Gray in his weaker moments, and it was hard not to join them in revelry.
Even such a jovial crowd could not always bring themselves to laugh at Gray’s slightly off-colour satire however. Jokes about women and ethnic minorities often lacked a punchline, and were hardly biting social commentary. While certainly not offensive, they sometimes seemed slightly pointless. This did not dampen the mood however, and I left with a smile on my face.
Overall, I enjoyed Gray’s performance, and with some finessing of the script his very convincing character could be a hit in Edinburgh.