The Fringe throws all kinds of surprises and one for this year’s surprise breakthrough is Ciarán Dowd (from sketch trio Beasts) as a seventeenth century sword swinging, Spanish egocentric lothario, on a quest for vengeance to find the six handed man who slayed his father, Don Rodolfo. Dowd brings plenty of energy to a human manufactured sweat-box in the container ship come venue at the Pleasance Courtyard. For a latish show, the room can be energy sapping but a great deal of credit has to go to Dowd who drives the momentum from start to finish.
There’s a slight rawness to Dowd’s performance, not everything is pitch perfect, lines forgotten and maybe not the most graceful physically. But I’d rather that from someone with true comedy instincts than a trained actor trying to be flawless. Dowd delivers some killer lines through out, which is one of the highlights of the show. I can imagine he had a great deal of fun with the script and felt a sense of freedom in doing so. His slaying of an army of soldiers is a particular masterstroke. Possibly one of the show’s most key factor in terms of Dowd showing a streak of genius is impossible to write up but you can’t help but feeling impressed. (Will just have to find out yourselves). Whilst a real strong show, it’s not perfect. It lacks a sense of originality, riffing off The Princess Bride and a few other film references without providing much invention or layering makes Don Rodolfo feel a bit basic, further demonstrated with the choice of props that fail to raise too much of a smile, which feels like an opportunity missed. There are a few times where some segments fail to generate a laugh, these quiet moments more a result of Dowd being a victim of his own success. But alas there’s enough silly joy through out and solid hard chortling to keep you smiling into the night and deem Dowd as someone with a solo career in the making. The beast has set sail.