Edinburgh Fringe 2013
ReviewIt’s the final night for Dr Professor Neal Portenza’s Interactive Goat Hour and the Dramhouse Upstairs is so full of eager spectators that one guy is sitting in the front row holding the good doctor’s projector in his lap. People are standing at the back, craning their necks to see as Portenza and his assistant Jen McArthur (Echolalia, C Aquila) set up their haphazard collection of props and set pieces. We are given remotes, little talismans on lanyards we will use to control the action, and the doctor keeps up a friendly banter with us, ameliorating the fact that the show is beginning somewhat later than it should. But it’s the last night and the room is packed and the drinks are flowing, so everyone's happy.
Punctuated by moments of technology driven, quiz-styled choice, the Interactive Goat Hour gets off to a slightly rocky start as sound issues (which will persist to some degree throughout the show) result in the introductory video having to be restarted. We stick with him. And it’s worth it. As the Ghanaian national anthem (actually Toto’s Africa) begins playing, we are all encouraged to stand (at least in spirit) and sing along. And that more or less sets the tone for the rest of the hour. Portenza goes on a rampage, the performance riddled with non sequiturs and physical comedy, he’s taking our shit and dishing it back to us. And like Lister's triple fried egg sandwich with chili sauce and chutney, it all somehow works, despite being seemingly all wrong.
The glory here lies in the absolute light-hearted nature of the piece. Sometimes a towering inferno, sometimes simpering jester, Portenza plays a range of characters, aided by a (very) loose narrative plot, that are delightful to watch in their sheer ridiculousness. When we enter the action it is comfortable, easy interaction and we don’t mind taking part. Despite a certain laughable ineptness, Portrenza’s presence is commanding and entertaining. This is a wild ride that is sure to polarise audiences, a sort of marmite of the theatre world, if you like. Love it or hate it, Dr Professor Neal Portenza’s Interactive Goat Hour is an unforgettable experience that stands out from the crowd.