Joseph Morpurgo's Distilled Lunacy Is A Must-See

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 49 months ago
Joseph Morpurgo's Distilled Lunacy Is A Must-See ★★★★★ 5


Londonist Rating: ★★★★★

The problem with a show like this, of absolute lunatic perfection, is that it's very difficult to describe without sounding like a lunatic yourself. Is it sketch, character comedy, or just being held hostage in a garage by a madman for an hour?

We start with grainy video footage from the town of Odessa, Texas in the early 1980s. Here's a news clip of an explosion at a chemical factory, there's a hilariously amateur advert for the local Christmas store. We see an interview with the town's first female police sergeant and a segment of the most 80s technology around (Sony Watchman, anyone? No, us neither). Joseph Morpurgo then takes all those briefly-sketched characters and spins a dark, twisted story out of the broken, disparate parts.

Most of these individuals are completely psychotic and not afraid to clamber into the audience (avoiding the front row will not save you). It takes a certain amount of chutzpah from a performer to be so off the wall and assume your audience will come along for the ride, but this guy has charisma in truckloads — as well as a beady eye that spellbinds. You can see where the improv background helps (Joseph is part of the long running and excellent show Austentatious). It's not a show about set-ups and punchlines, instead it relies on a witty turn of phrase, an unexpected piece of imagery, and being absolutely bonkers.

Highlights are a homicidal Santa and an 'interval' set-piece of spoken word by the human embodiment of static, but to select particular sketches feels like detracting from the joyous, insane whole. You'd be crazy to miss it.

Joseph Morpurgo: Odessa is on at Invisible Dot, 2 Northdown Street, N1, until 15 November. Tickets £10 / £8.50. Londonist saw this performance on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 12 November 2014