Edinburgh Fringe Review: Ciaran Dowd, Pleasance Courtyard

How much influence does a director have on a comedy performance? Ciaran Dowd's show Don Rodolfo is directed by Tom Parry of sketch group Pappy's and it boasts the same sweaty silliness that has become a trademark Parry's performances over the years. But has Parry imposed his style on Dowd? Or was he drawn to work with Dowd - who is also in a sketch group, Beasts – because he saw in him a younger, sexier version of himself. Is Parry Martin Scorsese to Dowd's De Niro?

To be honest who gives a fig? I was laughing too much during the show to think about this at the time. Don Rodolfo is a hoot from tee to green. Or maybe that should be from thrust to parry. Dowd plays a black-clad 17th Century Spanish swashbuckling lothario – full name Don Rodolfo Martini Toyota – with a libidinous swagger and a ridiculous cod-Andalucian accent. His real Irish brogue kept making cameos which added to the fun.

Dowd/Rodolfo is on a quest to avenge the death of his father and the show tells the story of his trek across Europe hunting down his mysterious six-handed nemesis with the aid of a talking hobby horse. This is a show that is low on production values but high on comic inventiveness. He has a particularly unusual way of writing a letter.

It is all performed in a playful knowing style from the Zorro-style opening to the Errol Flynn climax via hints of Don Juan and Don Quixote. Dowd is more than happy to send his character – who has a habit of burning houses to the ground for no logical reason – and himself up. You could say it is all a comment on masculinity in crisis, but if you did that you are just being a pretentious bellend.

There are whiffs here of other great comedians who like to break the fourth wall and don't take themselves too seriously such as Adam Riches. And there are definite echoes of Rik Mayall's Flashheart in Rodolfo's swordplay and philandering aspirations. But don't analyse, just buy a ticket, sit back and enjoy yourself. Dowd's show is a real crowdpleaser. One of those late night gems at the Edinburgh Fringe that is well worth staying up for.

Until August 26. Tickets here.

Read more Edinburgh Fringe reviews here.

****

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