Andrew Hunter Murray, known for his success in Austentatious and QI podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, presents his first solo show this Fringe. But it's not actually Hunter Murray we meet; rather, a selection of his madcap creations, all of whom feature in a pub quiz. Before the show even begins, he’s already working hard to engage the queue, handing out detailed comic leaflets as his quizmaster alter ego, Tony Rebozo. It's a great gimmick: Fringe queues can be tedious, so having something entertaining to browse creates a sense of anticipation and involvement before we even enter the space.
This performer knows how to work an audience. He has us all on board, participating whenever requested to do so (and request he does). His characters may be over the top, but they have a root in realism that keeps them grounded, recognisable and relatable, despite their clear exaggeration. This believability enables us to suspend disbelief, even when we are watching something entirely and intentionally ridiculous.
There were two characters that I particularly enjoyed, who stood out as being especially fun and totally contrasting in style: a flamboyant, Samba-loving Latino who had us giggling and dancing in our seats, and the 'man on the toilet door', a joyfully surreal concept.
It’s unsurprising that Hunter Murray – a critically acclaimed and clearly talented improviser – is quick-witted with his ad-libs. It's also unsurprising that a writer on a major TV quiz show (QI) might choose to set a solo show around a quiz, albeit a lowly pub quiz. However, I would question whether this scenario and Tony Rebozo as a main character are the best comic vehicles for him. While it's certainly an amusing piece, there's less of the big laughs and quality jokes I’d expect from a performer of his calibre. Perhaps this is because the script and several of the characters are, in my opinion, a little too obvious and stereotyped. This did surprise me, as Hunter Murray is a sharp, witty and intelligent writer; but then, this is his debut solo show.
Round One is an entertaining show that's easy to watch, but it is competing with a huge amount similarly-styled comedy at this year's Fringe. Still, Andrew Hunter Murray is a fine and gracious comic actor, who works hard from beginning to end and builds a great rapport with his audience. The show doesn't stop when the lights go down either – he's outside again as we leave, continuing the pub quiz experience till we're all on our way.