Edinburgh Festival review – Robert White

Robert White’s debut show is a highly impressive, weirdly exciting, audacious hour, finds Ben Clover.

robert_white2It’s not just demented energy you get from Robert White. There’s also some surrealism, a healthy dollop of filth and a real sense that anything could happen.

I don’t know if he finds someone he fancies to bring onstage at every show but he seems to have plenty of material to fall back on if he doesn‘t.

When I saw him, White hauled a game Pole called Bart from the front row for a musical game that blurred the boundary between heavy-handed flirting and low-level sexual assault. The segment showed off all of White’s comic qualities: an unembarassable love of innuendo, musical pastiche, and a dash of unrequited poignancy. That and a relentless pursuit of his prey that makes you wonder just how far he’ll take things.

We found out when Bart returned to his seat after refusing to kiss him anywhere other than on the cheek. White exits then bounds back onstage, sits on his knee and snogs him through an Incredible Hulk facemask.

Maybe Bart was a plant but White wasn’t afraid to take chances in this, his first full-length show at the Fringe.

The blond comic has some groan-worthy gags and some gold. The dross includes some yawnsome shocking-by-numbers on Madeleine McCann and Princess Diana. He doesn’t need this kind of thing because he’s a frighteningly good performer anyway.

Edgy is a word diminished by overuse but White is the real thing. The sense of hurt, anger, peevishness and/or resentment he exudes when something doesn’t go right make the show weirdly exciting. He blames Asperger’s but I think it’s just star quality. You get the sense he really isn’t joking when he outlines his sexual plans for Bart, which of course makes it funnier.

He’s not for shrinking violets being, as the Pole found out, literally in your face at times but Robert White carries it off by sheer force of will and innuendo,

His menace, camp, musicality and relentlessness are perfectly summed up in the exit music playing as the audience files out.

It’s the first line of One Singular Sensation (“every little step she takes”) from musical A Chorus Line but repeated endlessly. A unique act who I suspect is substantially different each night, perfect if your energy is flagging a bit mid-Fringe evening.

Four stars
Robert White’s Outrageously Peculiar Organ is on at 9.30pm at Gilded Balloon Teviot, click here for booking.

Leave a Reply