Adam Riches is Coach Coach

★★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2015

“Go Centaurs!” Crikey, there can’t be many events at this year’s festival that reach a crescendo quite like Adam Riches’ latest high-concept effort. The Tattoo, maybe. A leftfield winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2011, Riches is enjoying his second successive Fringe at the Queen Dome, and really working that sizeable space. Where his previous shows were stop-start sketch affairs, Coach Coach goes feature-length and cinematic. You’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, you’ll possibly end up performing a nerve-wracking athletic task that will make or break the whole evening, but let's not dwell on that.

This is the story of Eric Coach, a gum-chewing, grammar-eschewing trainer of an abysmal college sports team – it’s basketball, basically, but a stunted, stage-friendly version. Like all the best sports movies this isn’t really about sport, but relationships, the human condition and overcoming adversity. Having two left hands, for instance. Rather than conscript the audience into supporting roles, as he did last year, Riches employs an impressively hefty cast here and often leaves them to it, although that does cause an occasional lull: it’s his blissfully grizzled performance that lights up the, er, stadium.

Indeed, he’s clearly given much thought to maximising the Dome’s arena-like potential. The cleverest scene sees Teen Wolf (don’t ask) take Coach’s daughter to watch a stadium comedian, a setting Riches recreates in a wonderfully silly, surreptitiously star-bashing fashion.

This is a bit of a sprawling epic, messy in places, but by the close you’ll be yelping at the stage like a proper wild-eyed US sports fan. Go Coach Coach.