Sometimes, at Edinburgh Fringe, it feels like you can’t move without being pitched another show that’s a love story, from the first fluttering to bitter break-ups, the whole spectrum is here for the choosing. But Patrick McPherson’s Colossal, playing at Underbelly Cowgate is different, and wonderfully so.
Hot on the heels of the 2019 hit The Man, Patrick McPherson returns to the Fringe with a dazzling hour that is quite unlike anything else you’ll see this year. McPherson portrays a character named Dan, who is spending the time before an upcoming first date telling us about his last serious relationship.
Dan is charismatic, as excitable as a puppy, and ready to share what was great, and not so great, about his last relationship. But perhaps not all is as it seems. McPherson’s writing takes the audience on a winding journey of discovery that throws up more than a few surprises, and leaves us reeling in the process.
Colossal is a veritable smorgasbord of theatrical stylings; spoken word, comedy, music, storytelling, all pressed into this perfect nucleus of theatrical brilliance. It’s not easy to describe just what a feast this production is, Will Hayman’s lighting design seems to ricochet off every word McPherson utters, while Sam MacDonald’s beautifully searing soundscape creates a world perfectly tailored to our protagonist.
Then there’s Patrick McPherson, who has not only written Colossal, but also gives a tour-de-force solo performance that is so captivating the audience barely dare breathe for the sixty minute duration.
With such a varied combination of styles, there could have been a danger of it being too much, but director, Susie MacDonald, has somehow taken everything that’s going on and distilled it into pure perfection.
With Jack Holden’s Olivier nominated Cruise (also an energetic monologue with music) returning to the West End this week for a second season, there is no reason why this visceral and brilliantly unique piece of theatre couldn’t be destined for a bigger stage. But for now, if you only see one show at Edinburgh this year, make sure it’s Colossal.