Review: Brain Rinse by Mike Raffone

An intriguing, anarchic endeavour that leaves a bad taste

★★
comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 04 Aug 2018
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Brain Rinse

Only a brave act announces high on his flyer that “this show contains traces of audience participation” – the very thought can send a shudder down even the most flexible of spines. Interaction is the point of Brain Rinse, admittedly, although clearly the real point is for an actor from Buckinghamshire to tick "Fringe show" off his bucket list.

Oddly enough, having gotten here, he then leaves much of the performing to the audience. And it almost works: this often feels like an anarchic Fringe production from the 1980s. But then it gets awkward.

The set-up is fairly typical. Mike Raffone (get it?) is our host, kicking off as a ninja then dipping behind the curtain to introduce a bunch of half-baked characters, from military to mountaineer. It takes an odd turn early on when he’s completely upstaged by one punter he invites up, an actor called Ken. Still, the first half would work pretty well as a kids' show, and there’s a nice touch when he gives the shyest audience member a "Back Off" paddle, to ward off unwanted participation.

As things get sillier and more physical later there are moments where certain people laugh harder than you’ll see all Fringe, although some of them also leave before the end. Then Raffone tries to flip that "Back Off" paddle idea by hassling the young girl he’d given it to, which becomes genuinely uncomfortable; he needs to choose his targets better, or drop it altogether. A woefully misguided end to an otherwise intriguing endeavour.