Edinburgh Fringe Review: Brennan Reece, Pleasance Courtyard

It is always interesting to see how a new comedian moves from doing short club sets to a full hour in Edinburgh for the first time. I was particularly intrigued by youthful Mancunian Brennan Reece after seeing him do well in a couple of comedy competitions, including winning the English Comedian of the Year in 2015. After seeing his debut show here I expect he will go on to win more awards in the future.

Reece’s full Fringe debut, Everglow, is an autobiographical piece about family, growing up and doing your best whatever life throws at you. It takes its name from an album by the American band Mae and further inspiration from Reece visiting a magic show where he turned out to be the only member of the audience - which was a bit awkward when he was also called up to take part in the tricks. 

From there we get the story of Reece’s childhood. His man’s man dad was concerned that he was on the camp side and tried to get him to get him into a butch hobby like carpentry with suitably comic results. Life at home was not always a bed of roses, but Reece was always able to give his mum a cuddle when he felt down.

The story neatly opens out and explores the wider muddle of modern masculinity. The mainstreaming of pornography and lad culture means that men do not necessarily treat women how they should. In one vividly comic story Reece recalls being a fish out of water at a lap-dancing club.  

I won’t spoil things but Everglow builds to a dramatic finish, showcasing Reece’s skills as a storyteller. What is particularly interesting is that whereas his stand-up sets have been more conventional joke-based outings, this is more like storytelling. Reece is much more theatrical here. Occasionally it feels a little too scripted and it would be nicer if he was looser onstage, but that may just be me because I was expecting more of a stand-up set. Everglow is a great show. You won’t just enjoy it at the time, it will also leave its mark on you. 

At Pleasance Courtyard until August 28. Tickets here.

Picture by Duncan Elliott

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