Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge, Edinburgh
August, 2001

**** How do you stage an unstageable book? Wonderfully!

A decade on, Stephen Oxley brings his delicious one-man adaptation back to the Fringe for a final appearance.

Even without most of the formal gags in Sterne's book, what remains is a highly enjoyable evening of convivial wit from an urbane and decorous eighteenth-century narrator: no guffaws, but constant grins and chuckles. Oxley's Tristram is comically apologetic for his compulsion to engage in digressions which gradually fill his entire surreal autobiography, so that in just over an hour he hardly progresses beyond his birth.

Oxley is consummately skilled at working an audience, even an undeservedly sparse one; if they insist on sitting in the rear rows, he simply leaves the stage to chat to them as Tristram rambles about his conception and delivery, his uncle's unfortunate wound in the groin, his father's theory that one's name dictates one's character and numerous other forays off the straight narrative path. We are at once charmed by his manner and entertained by his matter. One of the earliest Fringe shows I ever reviewed, it remains as enjoyable now as on its first appearance.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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