A Fool's Audition Review

Edinburgh Festival review
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Sherborne Theatre Company
Jim Donnelly (director), Claire Connelly (producer), Nick Broughton (technician)
Bertie Gibbs (King), Hugh Dixon (Advisor), George Gordon Head (Fool)
Running time

The notion behind this show offers considerable promise; the fool/jester/clown is, after all, one of the earliest and most enduring types of performer.

From ancient Athens to the present, taking in as diverse exponents as Shakespeare’s favourite stand-up Will Kemp, Jamie Fleeman, a.k.a the Laird o Udny’s Feel (that’s fool in Doric, for non-Scots speakers), and Joseph Grimaldi (who was certainly no-one’s fool), comics in various guises have ruled the stage.

No fool, however, does any sort of ruling in whichever sort of English-speaking Ruritania ‘A Fool’s Audition’ is supposed to take place. Like some latter-day politicians, the king of this particular castle takes a very dim view of drollery, particularly when aimed in the royal direction. So much so that all previous court jesters have literally got the chop. Cue general merriment, you might well suppose.

Well, suppose again, for what proceeds is a combination of school-boy humour and ham-fisted prop-based jokes which might pass muster in the Senior Common-Room at Greyfriars, but doesn’t really cut the mustard when you’re pitching against the competition the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has to offer. This may seem a bit harsh, as the cast are clearly aiming more at RADA scouts rather than the Fringe’s more commercially-minded talent seekers (there’s even a drama school joke sandwiched into the script, in case we wondered).

However, given the potential of the premise, and even allowing a little for inexperience, there’s more to disappoint than raise the spirits here. The repeated references to ‘Saracens’ seemed odd and unnecessary and caused this reviewer to wonder what comedians such as Shazia Mirza and Shappi Khorsandi would have made of this idiosyncratic melange of the archaic and contemporary, which can work in pantomime but felt out of place here.

In fairness, there is at least one consistent performance, but one in three isn’t a great showing, and one can but hope that if this trio are serious about theatrical careers and do gain drama college places that they gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Sadly, ‘A Fool’s Audition’, in this incarnation, falls into the later category.

Show times
August 22-29 12.15

Ticket prices
£7.50-£8.50 (£6.50-£7.50)