Gilded Balloon Teviot – Debating Hall
Jon Culshaw has been on the telly and the radio for as long as I can remember. More often than not I only get to hear his voice, so it really was quite amazing and hugely enjoyable to see him performing live on stage at the Gilded Balloon Teviot in his new show Jon Culshaw: Imposter Syndrome.
Within seconds it becomes clear that this is an exceptional performer who really knows and understands their audience. Around me is a largely older demographic, and he quickly feeds them with copious impressions of famous figures that go back for decades, delving deep into memories of classic television and politicians to elicit guffaws of laughter. And it would be easy for him to just take these easy laughs and run with them. But no: as the show progresses, he builds brilliantly on this foundation of familiarity, adding increasing numbers of impressions of all types, across all ages, until we’re bang up to date, with jaws aching.
Culshaw is meticulous in his execution, such that it’s not merely his voice that alters and captures characters with utter precision, but his whole body that physically morphs to express them. This is an unexpected delight; an added bonus that brings an extra dimension to the vast assortment of impersonations he gifts us.
The material is smart, varied and utterly hilarious, as he imagines Liam Gallagher approaching his pension age, channels Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy through multiple quite diverse celebrities, and sings the Spiderman theme to the tune of “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis. His vocal range is extraordinary by default, but I was genuinely unprepared for what a fabulous singing voice he has! Now there’s a show I’d pay money to see. Additionally, his knowledge of regional dialect, of the mechanics of voice and accent, is fascinating and highly impressive, particularly the variations of Liverpudlian (not bad at all for a lad from Ormskirk!).
It is Culshaw’s live presence in the room that allows us to really appreciate fully this delightful man himself, as we learn of an unlikely friendship with Liam Gallagher and a passion for the work of Les Dawson (it takes some skill to play a piano quite that badly). He delivers a fabulous package of goodies with such warm enthusiasm and clear enjoyment that you can’t help but love him to bits. Quite simply, this is a masterclass in clever comedy from top talent: a fabulous way to enjoy the Fringe.
Written by: Jon Culshaw
Produced by: So Comedy / Broken Robot Productions / Siren Talent