FRINGE REVIEW – Pedestrian, Tom Wainwright

*****

Until 29 Aug  (not 16)  1900 (2010)  @ Underbelly

By Emily P

Pedestrian is the newest one man show from rising talent Tom Wainwright. From the introduction in the programme we know it shall concern his nightmare of a malignant goldfish he, through feeding, maintained in a state of misery for 14 years. Along with tantalising hints of the material concerning modern British life to be covered we should be forgiven for imagining  we are about to see a new Daniel Kitson arsing to take the mantel of carefully scripted comic commentary based on the minor but fascinating insignificances of modern life.
 
Wainwright mines his way round his dream landscape interacting with the brilliant digital projections behind him and lip-synching to his own soundtrack. And whilst there is a blending of material suitable for stand-up into this physical and multi-media rich piece of showmanship, this is theatre and it is fresh.
 
The narrative thread, to which the show sooner or later returns, is a conversation Wainwright has with himself – or rather a part he plays himself – where he must explain his dreams and so goes onto describe his nightly flight from the vengeful goldfish. This forgiving dream premise allows for indulgent plunging into personal as well as surrealist fantasy and equally allows him to handily drop out of such material quickly as part of the arbitrary dream journey. It would be a shame to describe such things here but I did like the meeting with Harold Pinter in imaginary heaven.
 
The realistically inexplicable setting of tom’s piscine chase in a generic British shopping precinct also facilitates the set-pieces of standup-worthy musings on modern life from Chuggers and their patter to the lunch hour competition for Tesco Metro sandwiches. Many of these pieces are hilarious and well observed; others are over-long and may have not raised such a warm reaction in a show where the material stood alone without the imaginative and inventive multimedia staging.
 
Tom is an accomplished actor with subtlety of facial expression and expressiveness of mime and movement. He has created a show which really utilises these classical skills and through faultless execution embodies Fringe theatre. as well as his vibrant performance engages the audience who are won over early on and stay with him through his strange ramblings all the way to the end, even when a few phrases are lost or the wonderfully silly dream narrative takes an ambiguous turn.
 
This show will be a sell-out this Fringe and Wainwright set for big things, but while this show is in no way pedestrian it will not match up to what Wainwright will be producing once he has learned to be more selective with his wealth of ideas and musings and to write for a sophisticated viewing audience and not himself.

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