Review: Adam Riches is The Lone Dueller

Bombastic tale of swordsmanship revels in its ramshackle nature

★★★
comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Adam Riches is The Lone Dueller. Image: Idil Sukan
Published 17 Aug 2018

Comedy Award-winner Adam Riches returns with a show stuffed full of his trademark bombast. Loud, ridiculous and kinetic, this is not the place to be if you seek subtlety. He prowls the stage, dominating the venue, in a show of comedic command. There's a story, of sorts, recounting the rise to fame of the lone dueller, a revered swordsman. But the narrative doesn't really matter, functioning merely to offer genre conventions to be played with. Riches repeatedly asks the audience if they're confused about what's going on, and is satisfied when the overwhelming response is "yes".

There's lot of fun to be had here in Riches' interaction with the mannequins that make up his supprting cast – and the skillled but harassed puppeters that manipulate them. The ramshackle nature is part of the appeal, especially as it offers plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong. Which they do, enabling Riches to work productively in the moment. Where many shows work hard to avoid gaffes, here they're part of the deal.

Oddly, in some places, the humour appears creaky. A recurring gag involving audience partiicpation feels a bit queasy, especially when female punters are involved. And while part of the pleasure of the whole show is that the whole facade could collapse at any moment, this does mean all of this amounts to not very much. Still, Riches rightly remains a rare and revered performer, and it's hard not to be engulfed by the brio and commitment.