Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Ten years ago I saw the student Andrew Clover drive almost all his audience out of the theatre in a staggeringly dreadful piece of what was intended to be comic performance art (well, I saw him drive almost two-thirds out, at which point I joined them). A decade along, he has amassed a more than respectable c.v. as an actor, and returns to broadly similar territory but with far more accomplishment and control.

Maurice Clark has left his house for the first time in six years to deliver a lecture on Jonathan Swift, whose reincarnation he believes himself to be. Clark is the kind of nebbish familiar as a character type, with taped-together spectacles, carpet slippers and nasal estuarial whine; it is his material that sets him apart. Clover has a selection of scripted chunks which take up about half his hour onstage; the rest of the time, he freeforms. Sometimes Clark's social maladroitness and, let's be frank, nutterdom can fall spectacularly flat, but given an audience which does not lock up on him (such as the one in which I found myself), he makes possibly the most skilled and extensive use of punters I have seen in a particularly good Fringe year on that front. There is mileage in Maurice Clark, but he's not an easy ride.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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