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Edinburgh Festival review – Joe Wilkinson

Tuesday, August 16 2011

An occasionally excellent debut from the star of Him and Her

Joe Wilkinson

Joe Wilkinson is best known for playing oddball Dan in BBC3 hit sitcom, Him and Her.

The phrase "BBC3 hit sitcom" should have have all sensible people running for the nearest hill they can find, but it is a decent show and Wilkinson the best thing about it.

During the past few years at the Fringe he has performed in Two Episodes of Mash, a sketch show double act, but this time around he is breaking out on his own with his debut solo effort, My Mum’s Called Stella and My Dad’s Called Brian. It is a move that proves a success, albeit a qualified one.

The bearded, lanky Wilkinson, dapper in a brown suit, has the geography teacher look down to a tee. He pitches himself as an awkward outsider – he hates going on stag dos, worries that he has let down his parents and says he can’t do a show about ‘something’ because he has never done anything of import.

Wilkinson takes us through a list of the mundane things that he has done with his life in order to work out what, if anything, is of value.

Occasionally he strays into hackneyed territory but some excellent routines, including one about an eye-watering visit to a strip club, keeps things ticking over and his shambling onstage persona seems to have the audience onside.

Yet the premise feels like something of a cop out and holds the show back. Of course a storyline or a strong central theme is not compulsory for an Edinburgh Fringe show, even if it feels like it at times, but My Mum’s Called Stella … would have benefited from having a tighter structure. You get the feeling there is a top notch set on the way from Wilkinson. This isn’t it, but the potential is clearly there.

3.5 stars

Joe Wilkinson: My Mum's Called Stella and My Dad's Called Brian is on at 5.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard.

Review written by Will Gore


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