Wresting MaNia ~ Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham

Wrestling MaNia is coming to Edinburgh Fringe from 5th – 18th August 2017 at Silk and you can book tickets here: Wrestling MaNia

Star rating: ****

Ben Pountney and Alex Brockie

It’s Wrestling MaNia’s big night and they’ve sold loads… well a few… a couple of tickets so their audience awaits! However, there’s one snag, the big names who had top billing are stuck waiting for a broken down minibus to be fixed and John (Alex Brockie) is left with little choice but to utilise a box of costumes and the handful of people he has with him. They’re the ones who were deemed not important enough to travel to the venue by minibus. Aided and hindered by the hapless Phil (Dean Hubbard), who is on a mission to seek out suitable music and equipment to play it on but would rather get his hands on a sandwich – it’s a race against time to get the show on the road.

Showing a hilarious and madcap insight into backstage chaos at a wrestling show, Wrestling MaNia is a well crafted comedy script with a strong cast playing the range of vastly different characters. As well as the man in charge, John, who’s manipulative, self-indulgent and bordering on desperation and Phil, all he wants is a sandwich, there’s Kyle (Adam Ravenscroft) who is the only member of the ensemble willing to work for free and delighted to be doing so. Kyle, we gather, is not the sharpest tool in the box and he’s victimised by The Mark (Ben Pountney), nobody loves The Mark more than The Mark does and he stalks around backstage (in his pink outfit) putting his crotch in everyone’s face! It’s no surprise that he is not a favourite of the token female character, Becky (Kaitlin Cole) who huffs, folds her arms and raises her eyebrows at every given opportunity – although she soon has her moment of glory when she meets The Mark in the ring.

The cast work well as an ensemble, individually they have each embraced the ‘character’ in their character and it shines through. The Mark couldn’t help but stand out, the role is supposed to do just that, Ben Pountney could not have put more into that performance, he really is one to watch. Equally, Adam Ravenscroft was a revelation as Kyle, giving a physically visual performance as well and using body language to convey his character’s traits. Alex Brockie was kinetic to watch as John, I felt every emotion that he was going through, in contrast, Dean Hubbard was superbly laid-back. Kaitlin Cole was also excellent, playing Becky as one of the boys while simultaneously commanding their respect.

It may have been slightly slow to get started but the momentum of the piece picked up brilliantly until audience members were almost literally rolling in the aisles and clapping enthusiastically midway through the performance. Catch it in Edinburgh, it’s definitely worth a punt.

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