**1/2 (out of 5)
It’s an impressive sight to behold, walking into the third-floor debating hall of the Gilded Balloon’s Teviot building. Seeing Andrew Maxwell, multiple nominee for past prizes at the Fringe, standing behind a giant screen displaying a volcano. Whenever he blurts out “Krakatoa,” there’s a thunderous sound, accompanied by billowing smoke. Turning to the smoke machine, Maxwell chuckles: “Why the f— not?!”
After all, he says: Life can be unpredictable. And yet. What does all of this onstage sound and fury represent? Nothing more than somewhat predictable jokes about the pandemic. Yes, it’s wryly amusing to note that the IRA suddenly became anti-maskers. It’s slightly less amusing to note that we may be stuck in this mess as long as Vladimir Putin lives. Somewhere in the middle, jokes about the appeal or lack thereof of various accents around the UK. I didn’t come thousands of miles to just see topical comedy, did I? Of course, if you’re a local, you may level your ratings up accordingly. You may enjoy it all just fine.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all, Maxwell acknowledges that his father has died in the past year from Alzheimer’s, making this his first Fringe without bringing him around. So it must be bittersweet for Maxwell. In which case, firing off a smoke machine and cannon noises might be just the diversion. He says it’s all part of embracing the chaos and maintaining good morale. And he closes quite sentimentally, reminding us that if we’ve been a good audience, that’s a testament to how our parents raised us, so give them a call and thank them, too.
Andrew Maxwell: Krakatoa runs through Aug. 29, 2022, at Gilded Balloon Teviot (Debating Hall).