John Tothill: “The Last Living Libertine” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

*** 1/2 (out of 5)

Sometimes the buzz is a bit much? Sometimes it’s better to experience a debut without any expectations.

Because I’d heard plenty of talk beforehand about newcomer John Tothill, from whispers of potential nominations to a testimonial from the stagehand who scanned my QR code that his was the best show she’d seen all Fringe. Which when I’m in a pissy mood, prompts an internal (or even external) vocal reply of “I’ll be the judge of that.” So there I sat, watching Tothill vamp for an hour with a front row full of Golden Girls, a back row of his friends, and an extremely appreciative crowd in between. He’s camp, but apparently not Harry Styles camp? He’ll also self-describe his comedy as cabaret TED Talk. Or as “comedy Oscar Wilde wouldn’t write, but he would attend and resent.” As a Year 4 teacher at a Catholic school, Tothill comes to Fringe ready with a lesson plan for all, as we’ll learn what flirting has to do with Oliver Cromwell and the Queen Mary, and by the end, we’ll all confess in such a way that we’re free to sin again.

Then again, Tothill’s show was directed by the late Adam Brace. So perhaps the buzz was worthy, after all.

John Tothill: The Last Living Libertine runs through Aug. 27 at Pleasance Courtyard Below

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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