Kamikaze is an appropriate title for Sean McLoughlin’s latest Fringe show, in that it feels like watching him explode on-stage. Except someone is messing with the remote and changing the speed so sometimes it’s in slow motion, all high-definition embers and debris, and other times it’s happening at double speed and you’re not quite sure where it all came from and the camera is jerking about like it’s a Michael Bay thriller. The point is that the show is intense, loud, and even a little inspiring, if an explosion can inspire. As far Sean McLoughlin is concerned, yes, yes it can.
Of all comedy tricks, it seems McLoughlin has best-mastered managing expectations, a dozen times throughout Kamikaze a joke blind-sides you out of nowhere. He plays with audience predictions not only to deliver some of the better jokes, but also to have fun with some recurring gags. These are the strongest moments, those and when McLoughlin descends into a rabid, rabbit-hole rant about the Cars movies.
McLoughlin himself is a strange figure, his body language doesn’t really seem to have one setting, and his limbs seem to follow only the trail that his mouth blazes, flailing around as he delivers a one-liner, or shouts about animated children’s films. He’s remarkably honest and vulnerable, entirely happy to explore some of his darkest emotions and embarrassing impulses with a rare kind of farcical introspection.
The intensity with which McLoughlin delivers his set sometimes gets the better of him, and when he peters out things slow down too much. It’s one of the few let-downs in an otherwise excellent show. Where it succeeds, however, it really succeeds. Dark, harsh, and angry it may be at times, but McLoughlin is always self-aware, self-deprecating and knows just how to channel his neuroticism and anxiety for good.