Joseph Morpurgo – Truthmouth review

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

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Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Truthmouth: an arts charity that specialises in developing verbatim theatre, where scripts are written word-for-word from genuine conversations.

That’s total nonsense, of course. Truthmouth is totally made up. But it’s an effective, straightforward hook to tie together character comic (and Austentatious member) Joseph Morpurgo’s hugely accomplished debut solo show.

There are oodles of ideas packed into this innovative hour. Morpurgo rapidly runs through character after character – each aided by a Google image search result or clip art picture projected behind him – mixing short, one-liner skits with longer set pieces. Among others, we meet an over-enthusiastic TV chef, a veteran Uno player, a friendly private assassination service employee and a possessed Irish farmer.

Morpurgo is a capable, if not flawless performer – he relies on shoutiness a little too much – but the complex script is superbly written. Barely a sentence goes by without a neat joke or pop culture reference, and his punchlines are rarely predictable. A sketch about a man recently made redundant at first feels out of place, until the killer pay off is revealed, and those in the front row will wish they hadn’t taken off their raincoats when they meet a long-forgotten character from the Nokia 3310.

The joke rate and consistency is remarkably high, and there’s rarely a dud character. The ending could use a bit of reordering – a sketch turning the attention to Morpurgo’s tech operator feels like a natural, satisfying finish… then there’s still one more sketch to go. But Morpurgo’s produced a show that’s crammed full of inventive ideas and ludicrously silly one-man skits. A mightily impressive debut.

See 'Joseph Morpurgo – Truthmouth' at the Edinburgh Fringe

See Joseph Morpurgo in London

Kings Place Festival 2014: Joseph Morpurgo – Odessa

Character comic Joseph Morpurgo's latest solo show, 'Odessa', is another hugely innovative triumph. We open with 1980s news report footage about a chemical plant fire in Odessa, Texas. Morpurgo ingeniously brings to life the subjects of the story, as well as the stars of some dodgy Odessa TV ads, to string together a 'Twin Peaks'-style whodunit. The footage is paused on the grainy face of an eye witness or police officer, and the crafty comic takes over the character from there. He has an elegant way with words, and loves to give innocent characters a sinister 'Odessa' is an exhilarating trip into the tirelessly inventive mind of an obvious talent.

  1. Kings Place York Way, N1 9AG
  2. Fri Sep 12
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