Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Show Up

Peter Michael Marino

Genre: Comedy, Improvised Theatre, Solo Show

Venue: Laughing Horse at The Counting House


Low Down

“Pete (Desperately Seeking the Exit, Late with Lance!) uses his decades of solo performance expertise to turn the often vilified clichés of the genre on their clichéd heads. Using an arsenal of Post-it Notes, Pete transforms real life audience experiences into a comedic, vibrant, life story that’s daring and different each time. You get to control the content, set and sound for this socially anxious show about you. And there’s a party!”


Peter Marino’s show has a charm that never feels cheesy. Audience interaction feels authentic – the man is genuinely interested in what we have to say. As a resukt we all lean forward and join in. It’s an interactive hour, intersting, moving, full of fun and “funny”. We are in the hands of a charismatic performer who blends brash with humble and the result is something original, rooted in traditional improv, Marino’s own unique style and flavour; we are hosted, we feel welcome, an integral part of the proceedings, yet we all know it is this man, this solo performer who successful makes theatre a shared experience. Rare and special work from the get-go.

Our input is part of a satisfying collaboration – we share in the worry, the panic as the clock ticks by. Is there enough material for the second half an hour – a “part 2” of the whole enterprise where the thoughts and stories we have offered from our own lives form the building blocks for an improvised story offered back to us by Marino, with the help of audience-based stage managers and music cue-ers. It’s all done with an angsty ease which also forms part of the fun-painy-comedy.

This show uses improv but goes further into “improvisation”. We aren’t just throwing in suggestions – the staple of many improv shows – we are co-creating with the performer; and if that sounds a bit heavy – it isn’t. It’s fun and engaging and there’s a depth to this show, largely delivered by Marino’s quick-fire witty responses that gives the proceedings a philosophical and emotional edge. He throws a lot of one-liners away – seemingly but they are all really necessary paint on the collective comedy canvas.

We learn lessons about life and there’s an underlying ideology, a conclusion drawn by our host, that life is as much about showing up as it is about what we achieve. More so, in fact, for sometimes is all we can do, but that act is everything. Showing up is a great equaliser – it’s a choice we can all make at any time.

Throughout the hour, Marino is in an improvational flow state, a flow interrupted and scuppered only by his humanity, a vulnerability anchored to the “script”, a script that represents safety and failing memory and is ultimately a little bit of theatrical genius – a comedy prop, a clown-style, a safe harbour, a limitation on that very flow, but also a guide to where we all are, where “now” is, and an opportunity to set sail, into unhinged waters. We can all improvise, create the next moments without being sure of the results-  but we have to show up for that to be possible. The core message of this show is also its strong virtue as theatre. It’s a simple message but somehow voids feeling cheesy or too preachy.

The audience loved every minute, there was laughter aplenty but we also sailed into the rocky waters of love, loss, uncertainty and depression. We made the show. He made the show. And when there was no show, at least we had all showed up, and that was a collective reason to cheer and show off. I felt the ending did feel a bit too polemic-ish. We didn’t need the show’s core message to be spelled out too much by the performer before we lift. We could draw our own conclusions on the way out. Sometimes silence is better and less is more.

I enjoyed and valued Show Up. I participated but that wasn’t the key thing. Just showing up was the big payoff. You should show up for this too. Highly recommended.