Stack review at Bedlam, Edinburgh – ‘a mad comic creation’
Desperately silly, but nonetheless slick, Stack introduces celebrity explorer and documentary maker Stackard Banks. Having journeyed up the Amazon to discover a lost tribe, he realises that the experience has taught him more about himself than anthropology. Inspired by a matinee of Les Miserables, Stack has decided to present his story at the Edinburgh Fringe in the form of a musical.
Ed MacArthur’s mad comic creation is a hybrid of Bear Grylls and Alan Partridge, a desperately egocentric, misogynist adventurer with one eye on the ladies and the other on the mirror. Using tightly edited recorded material, MacArthur as Stack fields enthusiastic press, bursts into song and even manages to include Sting as his official rainforest guide.
There are random meta threads on the nature of drama training that might not work outside the Fringe but other than that, this is a tremendously snappy musical comedy. MacArthur uses the minimum of resources to present the piece, including some trippy projections and the welcome inclusion of Annie McGrath, who surreptitiously manages to upstage him, with a deadpan delivery as dry as MacArthur is gung-ho. It’s unlikely that the musical Stack will have much of a shelf life after Edinburgh, but as a character, there’s plenty of mileage left.