Edinburgh Fringe 2019
High energy stand-up and songs from an extremely talented Romanian.
The diminutive Dragos Mostenescu is on a journey. Where to, who knows, but he’s keen to get us all aboard, if only to see where we end up. And what a fascinating ride it proves to be. Full of humour, good music, very clever word play and a nice balance of stand-up and songs.
Mostenescu hails from Romania but, following over twenty years experience of writing and delivering sitcoms and comedy shows in his homeland, he’s been plying his trade over in the UK for the past two years. His Fringe show debuted to much critical acclaim earlier this year down in London’s Leicester Square and, five minutes in, you can see why he’s already building a reputation on our fair shores.
Mostenescu is full of energy, irrepressible, has a mind that’s sharp as a pin and he scatters words around the room at amazing speed as he whisks us through stand-up routines and songs that cover an eclectic range of subjects. An inventive song based on single words in a shopping list was followed by a very clever, extended allegory based around Count Dracula’s proclivity for blood sucking that somehow linked in leading UK politicians. There was an excellent (and horribly accurate) parody of the cliched lexicon that seems to inhabit most big corporations and an amusing look at what the smartphone has done for us.
But the stand out was an extended look at how “Let It Be”, that Beatles classic, might be interpreted in a variety of musical genres which took in reggae, rap, jazz, a bit of blues, a German traditional ballad and a rather wonderful version of the traditional Russian folk song.
Mostenescu is an extremely accomplished writer and performer as well as being a consummate pianist, who perhaps could have done with a real piano rather than an electric piano but we’re in the upstairs room at Sofi’s Southside, so there wasn’t room. His stand-up routines are good, delivered with clarity, excellent comic timing and nicely placed irony and satire. And his songs are beautifully constructed in terms of the words they deploy, the story they tell and their really complex rhyming and stanza constructions – which must have consumed a lot of his creative juices. He makes you really want to listen and that’s the sign of a very good performer.
He’s an engaging artist with a very cleverly constructed story to tell which he obviously enjoys telling. This enthusiasm is infectious and draws the audience in, breaking down that fourth wall and making for a rewarding experience, something that was both assisted and enhanced by the intimate venue. This is definitely a show worth seeking out. And it’s free as it’s part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival. But do stick something in his bucket on the way out. After all, as he laments, renting in London is very expensive.