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Morgan Berry Pet Bereavement Counsellor

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Edinburgh 2013

Twist your mind to imagine through the impossibilities of The League of Gentlemen being made in the early 80’s. Now thrust into that world of madness a young Vic Reeves from the heady days of Vic Reeves Big Night Out and Noel Fielding from his Mighty Boosh days. Now imagine Vic and Noel having a rancid love child. Joe Rowntree is what that child would have grown up to be, which brings us to modern day Edinburgh…

In short this show is ludicrous. Joe is a character performer who manages to completely throw himself into the role. If you were to speak to him off stage it would be hard to imagine that this nice, polite young man could come out with the nonsense that he does. To say he’s a complete nutter seems like an understatement.

There were whimpers of laughter almost continuously throughout the show and anyone who says they had even an inkling of what was coming next is a filthy liar. Joe worked his way through several very well thought out sections of the show, pausing with great effect to let the madness sink in, and continuing at just the right pace to keep everyone in the crowd constantly giggling. Short of breath and with tear drenched cheeks, we watched the show end as unexpectedly as it began.

Surprising, full of audience participation and riotous laughter, you are completely safe in the knowledge that you have just bore witness to a unique event; this is the very epitome of a great Edinburgh Fringe show. Nothing may ever be the same after watching this performance, or it maybe it will be, but at least you can bank on having some hilarious Joe Rowntree quotes to throw at your mates.

★★★★  Informed Edinburgh (2013)


Edinburgh 2014

With tambourine blazing, Joe Rowntree bounces on to the stage in his most flattering wig and a colourful dashiki. He declares himself to be Morgan Berry, Pet Bereavement Counsellor, specialising in helping people who have lost a pet rabbit. The next 59 minutes make as much sense as the first.

The basic idea is simple, if you have lost a pet and need help coming to terms with it, Morgan Berry helps you through that tough time. It is like an episode of Trisha where half the studio is on LSD and are keeping it a secret from the other half. There is laughter almost constantly throughout. Not always from the same people. It seems to move around as each spectator processes the bizarre antics in their own way, which creates a constant chain of tittering like a classroom of students who know they should be more mature, but can’t really help themselves. It just makes everything all the funnier.

The style is Pythonesque in its whimsy. It is his use of very specific and nonsensical language that is so captivatingly funny, no one could claim to know what he is about to say next, perhaps not even him. Verbal sleight of hand and misdirection are abundantly clear in Rowntree’s arsenal and he sets up straightforward gags in the most brilliantly convoluted way. He manages to pause at just the right moment to allow the audience to catch up, and then continues with the same syncopated rhythm to keep everyone off balance and laughing.

Rowntree’s character is so complete that he drifts in and out of it effortlessly. He asks the audience about their ‘rabbit owning experiences’ as Morgan Berry, and then gets upset with them as Joe Rowntree when they don’t quite follow what’s going on, which is common and hilarious.

The performance ends as insanely as it begun with a ‘huge’ finale, featuring, among other things, drums, chanting and a glimpse into the dark spirit world. Along with a couple of (possibly) willing volunteers on stage who were as dazed as the rest of us.

The Edinburgh Fringe is always a great place to see unusual or experimental comedy. Ridiculous in its simplicity but with a lot of obviously thought-through preparation, this is an amazing example of how to do it right.

★★★★ Chortle (2014)

Interesting Facts

When rabbits communicate it sounds
like they are speaking Welsh.

The gentle timid nature of rabbits saw them used by many Renaissance artists representing purity and the unquestioning faith in religion, for example Titian’s Madonna of the Rabbit (1530).