Tom Ward is pulling a reverse Samson at this year’s Fringe; and no, that’s not a sexual position, although a big chunk of Love Machine does concern his nocturnal proclivities, from carnal preferences to clubbing partners. As he explains at the top of this show, just before the run began he got that increasingly famous fringe trimmed, but the barber went a bit Delilah on it. Suddenly he looks a lot less distinctive.
And yet this terrific comic’s powers actually seem to have increased, bolstered by an enthusiastic full house downstairs at the Tron. He’s in thrilling form here, with a show that becomes more unexpectedly experimental as it progresses: from his splendidly candid admissions about sex and clubs and rock ‘n’ roll to a slightly random physical gag involving a phone, a light bulb and his sister, then some full-on character work in the final act.
But the most memorable bits of Love Machine, perhaps surprisingly, are musical. Ward admits that he lives alone these days and clearly spends much of that me-time messing about with audio equipment. The results are enormous fun. Here he hooks up a little widget that lets him compare sexy bits of a late pop legend’s hits, welds three classic rock tracks together to signify familial strife in sound, while a couple of live-sampling set-pieces late on are as close to must-see as can be. If you’ve ever glared at Ed Sheeran and hoped that his loop pedals would go horribly wrong, Ward shows us just what might happen. It’s absolutely glorious.