Edinburgh Fringe 2017: The Rise And Fall Of Marcus Monroe

wonders whether you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to comedy


Credit: Alison Peters PR

Rating:  ★★★☆☆

The Rise And Fall Of Marcus Monroe is perhaps not the most accurate title; the only falling was an intentional leap off a six-feet tall sparkly unicycle. The one man show, with a frenzied focus on Monroe’s drive to make his juggling famous, is perfect for those who are tiring of rife political commentary and ‘artsy’ pieces which have flooded the Fringe in 2017. Marcus Monroe doesn’t ask his audience to understand any dramatic concepts, he just wants us to have fun.

Showing every day at 3pm, the show is definitely family friendly but shouldn’t be written off as just a children’s performer. Monroe makes juggling entertaining for the hardiest and most serious of guests. Mastering the art of poking fun at himself without being depressingly self-deprecating, Monroe peppers his juggling with stand up about trying to make it big. An audience member is cajoled into filming short interviews mid-show, which Monroe explains are going to feature in his Netflix documentary, while he asks the audience to film several of his acts and put them on social media. The show has the feel of a pantomime, with Monroe describing himself as a ‘bicurious nutcracker’ and exclaiming “yes!” or “I did it!” after every feat.  You can’t reduce Monroe to a comedian, or circus performer, or actor; he’s all three, or at the very least he’s going to give every one a go.

Whether Marcus Monroe is himself on stage or a character is difficult to pin down, much like the show itself. The frenetic energy of the show sometimes results in confusion; in an effort to be original, The Rise and Fall Of Marcus Monroe tries to be perhaps too many things at once. Subplots after subplots, with a Netflix documentary being filmed mid-show, juggling, a mini game show with audience members in an effort to go viral, stand-up, ISIS and an implied pseudo-love story with his personal assistant Anna, are hurled at the audience in the one hour segment.  Combined with the (presumably purposeful) slapdash manner of the show, where a bored-looking Anna is cleaning up cracked eggs and a broken curtain while Monroe is talking, the flurry of scenes means some of the humour is lost en route. At one point the audience are informed a year has passed, and you’re left wondering what actually happened in the ‘previous year’ to begin with.

However confusing and frenetic his show may seem, Marcus Monroe is infectious. His passion for his craft(s) is obvious from the second he runs on stage to try and stop dynamite exploding. Music, lighting and technological elements make the Piccolo Tent seem much bigger than it is, but what truly made the show larger-than-life was the man himself. While he openly admits juggling isn’t the swiftest route to stardom, you’re rooting for Marcus Monroe. For a minute, his enthusiasm convinces the audience that he really will get his Netflix documentary. He tackles audience participation without making everyone nervously look at the floor, and he gets laughs from the very start. Whatever you think of his show, you can’t help but love Marcus Monroe.

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