Goose – Amphetawaltz

You know what the problem with relying on the crowd too much is? The crowd aren’t funny people. The crowd are ordinary people who’ve come to see funny people. This simple fact is the knife in the back of this otherwise decent show.

I like crowd stuff. It’s good fun, and can often be as funny when it goes wrong as when it goes exactly to plan, but it’s meant to go wrong in the right way. In Goose, it does not go wrong in the right way. Most of the time it just goes wrong. The crowd interactions are inventive, silly, and honestly just a little too ambitious. It all comes back to the fact that most people just aren’t that funny. You give someone too much scope, you give them too little direction, and when you blast a spotlight into their terrified face, they just seize up.

The best crowd-work is carefully planned so that even if you pick the dullest person on Earth, they can always feel their way into making it work. So often – so, so often – Goose asks way too much of basically just some punter, and as I’ve emphasised to death at this point, just some punter is not funny. Just Some Punter came to watch you be funny mate.

It’s such a shame that so much of the show is built around crowd participation, because the rest of it is pretty good. It’s bookended by two ostentatious musical numbers, the first of which sets the tone for a big, silly comedic adventure. Right after the huge opening, it launches into one-man sketch segments that function better than they have any right to. The star of the show puts in amazing work to hop between characters. His performance is lively, manic, and flamboyant. Honestly though, I couldn’t remember his name if you waterboarded me, because every time the show tried to get the crowd involved my eyes started rolling back into my head in an effort to stare my brain into forgetting what I was watching.

The short, frantic sketches themselves are good, but a little too often backload the laughs into one punchline that doesn’t really justify the ten or so preceding seconds you didn’t spend laughing. They cut back and forward from this ongoing storyline that’s enjoyable, but it’s difficult to tell whether it’s meant to be taking the piss out of pretentious, sentimental Fringe shows, or if it just is a pretentious, sentimental Fringe show.

This review feels very harsh and maybe it is. Being charitable, I could assume that I just caught a bad performance. Maybe most other times everything went exactly to plan and all the crowd stuff was hilarious. I can only speak for what I saw, however. I genuinely really enjoyed the stuff that I liked. There were dozens of unexpected laughs, smuggled into the show in inventive ways. The sketches were witty, silly, and often delightfully childish, but there’s so much getting in their way. I’m extremely conflicted about Goose: Amphetawaltz, and maybe that’s just because it feels like such a conflicted show.

There’s a lot to like here: it’s weird, colourful, theatrical, occasionally uplifting, and enormously ambitious. It feels a bit trite but the only way to sum up my feeling is that I liked what I liked, and what I liked turns Goose from a horrible time into a decent one. The rest of the crowd seemed to be having a good laugh, so maybe it’s just not for me. I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself, even if I didn’t have the best time.

★★★

Keiran Burnett