Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Donny Donkins wishes to be on TV. To prove just how entertaining he is and how much we should support his attempt to get air time he has come to Edinburgh with a star guest, an interview with a fellow Fringe performer, a live satellite hook up, a tremendous game show and some video work that is as inspired as it is insipid. With some great one liners and an infectious enthusiasm Castagnola pushes us to get with it as well as prove that chutzpah is alive and well and living in a the wee room at the Gilded Balloon.
We met Castagnola whilst minding our own business eating lunch. His pushy personality sold us the tickets and we were willing front row cheerleaders. From the very beginning when the stage manager has to prompt him onstage to the finale with the Donny Donkins theme song Castagnola never lets up. This relentless pursuit is tinged with the appropriate pathos as well as comic gems that keeps the show flowing. We have the theme tune, some mindless and bad street magic, an interview with another Fringe performer full of in house Fringe jokes and witty banter, a Hollywood guest who’s inflated in more ways than one, a great segment on the Thatcher funeral as well as a live Skype link up with his Dad (Allegedly). If you like your comedy full on and cringe worthy this is Alan without the Partridge.
There is no doubt this is extremely well considered. There are plenty of set ups that come to fruition later whilst the awful nature of some of the stuff is played out like Donkins is a genius with enough ad lib and genial banter that the audience are forced to laugh along at the anarchic nature of what is actually very funny.
There is really one star in this show (see what I did there – Full House). Castagnola has given us a creature that can try and get laughs at state funerals – I saw it – as well as force laughs from some street magic that is simply woeful. Some of the TV stuff can certainly be claimed to be old school and the graphics on the TV are like a bygone age but the voiceover from the X Factor guy as well as his Skype call – I wont spoil it but have to say my jaw dropped a little – are simply great.
The design for the show is not just simple, but really, really awful. There is enough awfulness that tacky becomes chic. There is little or no finesse with him paying a guy a pound to video the show whilst bemoaning the cost of both the title sequences and the stage manager. Donny Donkins, as a comic creation uses each of the props and set design to great effect and can look for sympathy as much for his lack of anything genuinely worthwhile or how much this tat cost.
Whether this leads to any TV company ever asking Castagnola to take on his own show on TV is unlikely but as there was a guy in the front row who claimed to be from ITV – who knows – I would both forgive and not be surprised if his only connection to TV was installing them. What I do think is that this has legs live in more wee rooms. It might not transfer onto bigger stages but the intimacy of TV was well observed and captured whilst theatre is a perfect medium for the choices made here.
This production had the entire audience in stitches. It may never win Castagnola huge amounts of money but it shall last long in my memory. It is the best fiver I have spent in a long time. As he does review reviews I look forward to mine but if you have the time, Donny Donkins is worth the effort.