Edinburgh Fringe Review – Joseph Morpurgo: Odessa

Welcome to Odessa, Texas. Or, more accurately, welcome to the Odessa, Texas that exists only in Joseph Morpurgo’s mind, a world built around found footage of 1980’s American advertisements and a twisted imagination. A loose narrative is composed using seemingly disparate video segments; after a chemical fire, a female police officer (a detective? The details don’t really matter, just go with it) is ordered by her chauvinistic boss to investigate the scene, with only some grainy footage and a garbled voice recording as a clue. From here, we meet various eyewitnesses, a smooth-talking diamond salesman, a strangely villainous Santa Claus… all played, of course, by Joseph Morpurgo.

It’s surreal, it’s discombobulating, but it’s also impressive. The show is packed with gags, skillfully sold through Morpurgo’s manic performance. With so many technical aspects to the show, it’s inevitable that something will go wrong, but in the end it’s all part of the fun. Morpurgo, aside from the occasional corpsing, rolls with the punches admirably. As the hour progresses he becomes increasingly bedraggled, but manages to bring his demented story to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. Folk who aren’t quite tuned in to the weirdness of the whole thing may not know what to make of it. One section in particular, involving reindeer, is rather difficult to comprehend. It all works, though, thanks to Morpurgo’s fine character creation and rapid-fire jokes. Recommended for anyone wanting to see something a bit mental.


30 July – 25 August (not 11), Pleasance Dome, 17.20


Stuart Addison

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