There's a point during tonight's set when Mat Ewins breaks character, leaves the stage and reflects on his work. Despondent, he acknowledges that while he's put together a good Fringe show, Adventureman 7: The Return of Adventureman won't have legs outside of August. It's certainly hard to think of a context in which his compulsive pursuit of failure would be better understood.
The performer's been a Fringe favourite for a few years now and a big part of his appeal is the Sisyphean career arc that sees him resigned to endure the same humiliations night after night and year after year. In the 2017 Fringe programme alone, he erroneously refers to this latest offering as his debut, and assigns it the sub-genres of "sculpture" and "tasting", publishing a solitary quotation from a negative review in an attempt to entice an audience.
This is as perfect a Mat Ewins show as seems possible to exist in the sense that everything goes wrong at precisely the right moment. It's almost too slick in this respect. While pockets of his audiences once thought themselves in the presence of a genuine incompetent, everyone here is in on the joke and having an excellent time. No-one could begrudge anyone this outcome, least of all Ewins himself, but it's getting harder to buy into his character as he is now almost too overtly talented and inventive.