Colin Hoult / Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists

There’s honestly nothing I could say about How We Stop the Fascists that I didn’t say when reviewing Hoult’s last outing as Anna Man, A Sketch Show for Depressives. I loved that show and I love this one just as much. In many ways, it’s more of the same, but if people can keep turning out year after year to hear the same clone-vat stand-up comics’ witty observations, it’s no bad thing for Hoult to keep resurrecting Anna Mann.

As before, it’s staggering how much comic content is packed into the hour. There’s very nearly a one to one ration between lines of dialogue and jokes. Every single thing that comes out of Anna Mann’s mouth (I’m choosing to believe she’s real and you can’t stop me) is completely and utterly hilarious.

For the unfamiliar, Anna Mann is a fictional actress. A deluded, neurotic lovey past her prime, and as I said before, a genuinely singular creation. As terrible a person as Mann surely is, she’s irrepressibly likeable. The character is simply bursting out of Hoult’s skin. He knows exactly how to be her in every conceivable scenario. Last time I saw Hoult, someone in the audience started crying and Anna Mann, not Colin Hoult, handled that as well and as tactfully as any real person would have. This time round there were some unexpectedly young children in the audience and once again it’s absolutely no hindrance to Hoult’s unstoppable comic creation. Their attendance led to some surprisingly endearing moments in fact.

How We Stop the Fascists is Anna Mann on a comically self-confident mission to defeat extreme-right ideology. Hoult is a ludicrously talented impressionist as well as a keen satirist and along the way plays a host of other characters that Mann ostensibly encountered in her quest to understand fascism. Each persona is feels almost as real as Anna Mann, with layer after layer of vocal inflections, refrains and idiosyncrasies.

Like A Sketch Show for Depressives before it, How We Stop the Fascists is a performance it ought to be illegal to miss if you’re at this year’s Fringe. It’s a genuine workout to witness and I think just about everyone left the room feeling like they’d been doing crunches for an hour. Utterly unique, painfully hilarious and an absolute must-see.

★★★★★

Keiran Burnett

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