Colin Hoult has developed a reputation for screwing with reality. But in his new show, Frankie Vs The Reptile at the Etcetera Theatre, he has created not one but two alternative realities. And they're multi-dimensional ones at that, switching from the 2D comic world to contemplations on the nature of time, space and the creation of the universe.
Unlike his 2009 Edinburgh show Carnival of Monsters (which you can catch again next month at the BAC), the comedy this time comes not from physical gesticulation, nor absurd and whimsical caricature, but from subtleties of well crafted turns of phrase which drift into the subconscious.
Hoult has plundered the darkest recesses of society in creating this show; the eponymous hero is a 41 year-old man with no job, personal hygiene issues and a taste for cold baked beans, who lists his hobbies as comics and his mum. The action, such as it is, revolves around Frankie's relationship with his ambitious yet frustrated careers counsellor, who guards a series of cruelly dark secrets beneath a veneer of well-meaning. Yet both characters tread a fine line between strength and vulnerability, and this is the perfect vehicle with which to exercise the full range of Hoult's acting capabilities, from sweetly comic to horrifyingly monstrous.
A jovial atmosphere transferred from the pub downstairs, which left the audience feeling relaxed from the outset as they sipped their pints and the drama unfolded before them. But very soon this soon tripped, slipped, then plummeted into a chasm of darkness, where casual titters were replaced by a collective held breath. Here, we were brought to witness something which seemed shockingly invasive - with faint echoes of Rosemary's Baby - which forced the audience to try to retreat to the relative comfort of the shadows. But even so, hope for the anti-hero and mankind in general made us peer out from the cracks between our fingers. We couldn't possibly let you know what we saw though, since this is a show with a twist in the tail...