Mr Thing is once again broadcasting to the Fringe for 2019 after its debut run in 2018, and it is transmitting in glorious technicolour. With an ingenious, expertly-executed concept, talented company and buckets of colour-saturated feel-good fun, Mr Thing is a jewel of the Fringe that encompasses the essence of what makes this festival great.
There are few shows which give you more bang for your buck than this one. The audience finds itself transported from a Fringe venue to the set of a TV chat show based in what feels like a retro-style parallel dream world, featuring rampaging dames and a fully-automated ping pong machine. The house band provides a perfect mix of intros, jingles and full numbers that set the sonic character of the show. They are joined vocally by hosts Tom and Owen while also getting stuck into the comedy themselves. Tom wins the audience over instantly with his hilarious, absurdist opening spiel while holding the mayhem together throughout the show. Meanwhile, Owen controls various technical elements of the show (and there are many) while contributing brilliant quips and physical comedy to the mix. The tech is slick and scintillating, working in well-designed tandem with the on-stage action. Where there are small technical hitches, the show maintains momentum with skilful flare.
The show is textured with layers of tech and gags that recur in unexpected ways, one after another. There is not much time to rest between laughs, which is aided immensely by the stand-out character of the show, Puppet Steve. A retro Sesame Street-esque purple puppet, Steve cracks gag after gag, bringing dry humour, witty realism and amusing self-awareness to the proceedings.
The most unpredictable parts of the show are the three special guests per evening. The format relies on the guests playing along effectively, and some acts appear better suited to this than others. However, any unpredictability is quickly guided back on track by the hosts. The audience participation is also inspired, using hidden cameras and props to select and engage various audience members in the show’s antics. The hosts create a warm, friendly environment that enables the participants to let loose.
Overall, Mr Thing is a loveable laugh engine that provides great value for money, a warm fuzzy feeling and the desire to return for more each night. If you see one show at the Fringe, make it this one.
Mr Thing is on at Pleasance Dome, King Dome (Venue 23)
At 22:20 until 25th August
Buy tickets here
Image: Jan Vrhovnik