Edinburgh review: Nick Mohammed

Nick Mohammed’s Apollo 21 is an early contender for being one of the shows of the Fringe, writes Paul Fleckney.

nick_mohammed1It’s not often that you can call a comedy show beautiful but, Nick Mohammed’s Apollo 21 is exactly that.

Whereas the laughs come from his exemplary character acting, as he retells the story of the Apollo XI moon landing through the people involved, his eye for theatre makes this a beautiful show to watch.

Instead of mocking or belittling the moon landing, Mohammed tells the story with love, and conveys the grand drama with a variety of props, small toys, light and dark, measured silence and Richard Strauss.

There are two masterstrokes to this show: to cast Buzz Aldrin, the main storyteller, as a very ordinary, middle-management Yorkshireman who regularly rehydrates and “loves to have a pop at the chemists!”; and also to retell the moon landing with the trappings and rhythms of an office Excel training session.

Through Aldrin’s anecdotes we also build up a picture the dynamics between Aldrin, Armstrong and Michael Collins, and of Armstrong’s personality. He doesn’t turn up to the show, of course, but you can ascertain that he is an unpredictable, eccentric, infuriating but brilliant man. A man who forces his fellow astronauts to play a child’s board game rather than marvel at being on the dark side of the moon. A man who insists on wearing his space suit to a restaurant.

It all makes Aldrin the more normal and bitter, but no less proud, and he confronts the elephant in the room (Neil – #1, Buzz – #2) in a poignant ending.

There are cameos by Laika the dog (the first earthling in space) as a charismatic toff, Armstrong’s mother as the hunched old hag you were scared of as a child, and a conspiracy theorist as an obsessional desperado.

A captivating story, hilariously, beautifully told by realistic and curious characters. You absolutely have to see this show.

Five stars
Nick Mohammed in Apollo 21 is on until August 30 at 4:45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard. Click here for tickets.

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