thu 29/02/2024

Edinburgh Fringe: Patrick Monahan/ Asher Treleaven | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe: Patrick Monahan/ Asher Treleaven

Edinburgh Fringe: Patrick Monahan/ Asher Treleaven

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Patrick Monahan: The Irish-Iranian comic has bags of charm

With the charm-cum-cheek of a naughty schoolboy, Patrick Monahan is an instantly likeable presence whose latest show, I Walked, I Danced, Iran, is a lop-sided but very funny hour-and-a-bit of observational comedy. Monahan is a veteran of several Fringes and a regular on The Paul O’Grady Show on Channel 4.

His physical verve is dampened only slightly by ligament damage, caused by “pratting about” at the previous evening’s show but his pronounced limp doesn’t stop him sliding down the stairs from the balcony to make his arrival, although he does retreat to a stool at several points.

Patrick Monahan, Gilded Balloon **** 

An Irish-Iranian raised on Teesside – “talk about the axis of evil” – Monahan has a gift for dissecting the quirks of our origins. Sweeping over the audience, he labels everyone by their provenance: thus we had “Leeds” – to whom he explained the concept of furniture; “France”, “Wicklow” – woven into a fantastic improvised routine about a wolf breeding with a Alsatian; and “Berkshire”, who works for the government planning for disaster management: “Where have you been lately, moving house?” asks Monahan innocently.

The entire act relies on winning not just the audience’s participation but their willing compliance, and Monahan’s warmth circumnavigates any nastiness. Between the bantering he inserts beautifully skewed tales about the world’s poshest dog turning up its nose at a Cornetto (“I know you wanted a Magnum, Archie”, coos its owner), rural gangs (“they use livestock to make up the numbers”), and the difficulties of having an Irish father and Iranian mother in the 1980s: “I left my bag unattended once and they shut the school."

It makes for a consistently funny show, often howlingly so, although it's a little ramshackle in both theme and structure. The pace drops towards the end when Monahan turns – much too late - to some rather awkwardly fitting political observations about Iran’s repression of music and dance. He pulls it together, however, with an all-singing, all-dancing finale where Monahan, buggered ligaments and all, dances with gusto, making it impossible not to succumb to his considerable charm. Until August 30 Graeme Thomson

Asher Treleaven, Pleasance ***

Asher Treleaven is a queer fish: he's a graduate of circus school, a former street performer and member of new burlesque group La Clique, and is now doing his first solo show dressed like a dandy in a white suit. But is he all he seems?

Treleaven, all geeky smiles and expressive gestures, face and limbs in constant motion, looks as camp as you like, but then plays with our assumptions as he makes a series of revelations about his sexual tastes, each of them ruder and funnier than the last. Secret Door is about the notion of what makes a man manly, and Treleaven is a chap wholly comfortable with his sexuality - and don’t you know it by the end of the show. It’s a curious mix of ribald descriptions of the joys of sex, social and political comment, and a large degree of stage business involving drug-taking and sucking from an oxygen mask. No, I didn’t get the point of the last mentioned, either.

It’s an uneven hour, during which Treleaven tells some very funny stories about combating street crime, air travel and homophobes - both in his native Australia and nearer home in the form of former Northern Irish MP Iris Robinson, and the more serious comments (during which he uses video projections to underline his points) appear to be from another show.

His highly stylised presentation is not for everybody but Treleaven has lots of ideas, some of them better realised than others. Whatever you may think of any shortcomings, though, he ends his set with a doozer of a gag that comes out of the blue. Until 30 August Veronica Lee

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters