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
Improv gets a bad rap in this country, but anyone who dismisses the genre clearly hasn't seen Austentatious. This highly impressive troupe perform a completely improvised Jane Austen novel, complete with period dress and cello accompaniment, with marvellous results. Made up of Andrew Murray, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Joseph Morpurgo, Cariad Lloyd, Graham Dickson and Rachel Parris, they're all hugely talented performers, able to keep the gag rate high and the made-up story rolicking along. Tremendous fun.