Review: Oleg Denisov – Doublethink

Russian satire that fails to launch

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Oleg Denisov
Published 05 Aug 2018

It feels unfair to poke holes at someone doing an hour-long show in their second language, but Oleg Denisov's grasp of English is far superior to many other performers at the Fringe (as well as this reviewer), so here we go. 

Denisov takes his inspiration from the work of George Orwell, borrowing his title from 1984. He further touches on Chekhov and Dostoevsky in an hour of semi-satire that is more Jonathan Pie than Stewart Lee. A self-procalimed member of "Moscow's intelligensia", the Russian comic makes full use of his incredible Anglo-Saxon lexicon to dance around issues of the day such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and the limited skirmish in the Ukraine.

It's perhaps due to his background as a philosophy student that he is big on ideas and discussion but gives little by way of tangible results. A man of his intellect is surely able go for the jugular, but his hacky pun work (though it must be said that using puns in a language not your own is some feat) and bizarre characters lack the requisite sharpness to truly do any damage. The points that Denisov is trying to make seem to get lost in his own overactive mind. The clutter that he presents can't quite match the satire he's hoping for. Getting a Russian's take on the state of the world is an attractive prospect, but the comic too often falls back on silly voices to play people from his homeland that are neither funny nor informative. A real shame.