Andrew Hunter Murray: Round One

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
30913_large
Andrew Hunter Murray
Published 21 August 2016

From the moment he starts handing out pamphlets (in character) as the audience finds their seats, it's abundantly clear that Andrew Hunter Murray is committed to the bit. It's a commitment he maintains throughout a zany and ornately structured hour of character comedy.

The leaflets in question are a detailed three-page guide to the pub quiz that's about to ensue (complete with disclaimers like "I will dock a point for every nipple I see") compered by the irrepressible Tony Rebozo. The quiz and its setting, The Rose and Crown, become the recurrent narrative backdrop for the string of characters Murray reels through. It's a fitting conceit, too, given that the Austentatious star is also a researcher for QI.

In his debut solo hour he's essentially created a mini world of interconnected personalities, a Russian doll house of comic creations, allowing him the freedom to hone in on any of its residents. It's all woven together nicely, as Rebozo makes timely escapes to make way for Samba instructor Arturo Flame; a flustered estate agent; and a waspish book group leader who only talks in rhyme. The humour is peppered with quirks and quips, and Murray's affability shines through in his sympathetic portrayals.

Given that it's his first show away from the stellar cast of Austen improvisers, there's a surprisingly distinct artistic voice to his work. Some of the sketches are a little aimless, but it's all tied together so smoothly that the shortcomings aren't a dealbreaker. Bring on round two.