The Incredible Feelzo: Man of Moderate Talent

The Incredible Feelzo: Man of Moderate Talent is a vibrantly vaudevillian ramble from the titular, vaguely Eastern-European "sixth in a line of circus performers", performed by Nikolas Strubbe. The show is a mix of physical comedy, magic and circus segments, such as one might have expected from an early twentieth century variety performer.

The title is no mere chuckle-worthy quip; Strubbe comically flaunts his various 'ineptitudes' through hilariously clumsy juggling, bizarre card routines, and reluctant dagger swallowing. He performs an endearing and lively character who has no qualms about leaving the stage mid-trick to engage with an audience member, or indeed leading them in a toast of Slivovitsa plum brandy.

It is apparent that the haphazard nature of the routines are intentional and part of the performance of a flawed human character. There is also a certain unbalanced mania to Strubbe's energy, suggesting a mental fragility borne of trauma. Indeed, he often pauses between acts to mournfully recall the ravages alcoholism had upon him and his family; scenes too raw and visceral to be pure fantasy for the sake of the performance.

Strubbe has no circus heritage in reality; "The Incredible Feelzo" is a meticulously-researched, dubiously-accented, escaping-moustached fictitious invention that deftly conjures a forgotten era of show business, while also musing upon the damage that such a career has upon the performer and their loved ones. It's a bitter-sweet ode to almost forgotten memories, where you can almost smell the greasepaint and see the cheap cigar smoke hanging in the air.

With a bit of male burlesque thrown in because, hey, it's Fringe.

★★★★

For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.