Fringe Review: Doug Anthony All Stars - Near Death Experience *****

Doug Anthony All Stars
Doug Anthony All Stars

Doug Anthony All Stars: Near Death Experience

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33),

Rating: 5/5

They say you should never return to the scenes of a triumph – leave a legacy that wants ‘em shouting for more.

Doug Anthony All Stars didn’t just ignore the old adage last year, they shoved two fingers in its face with a magnificent return to the Fringe where they made their name and reputation.

And so much for it being a swan song.

This year they are back for a full run, with a new set that is just as outrageous, offensive and gloriously, painfully funny.

The woman in front of me physically recoiled under her hat, and watched huge chunks of this show with her head in her hands, occasionally looking round, like a meerkat, as if to ask the audience ‘’you’re laughing at this? Really?’’

And yet, even she was moved to applaud as loudly as anyone at one poetic set piece from Tim Ferguson which summed up the two sides of the All-Stars – a moment of apparent beauty then torn to shreds with a punchline that lay so far the wrong side of the un-sayable it’d need a NASA team to recover it intact.

Ferguson’s diagnosis of MS is the source for much of the blacker than black humour that zaps through this set which is based on laughing in the face of near death and old age.

It’s everything, and more, that long-standing fans of DAAS could have hoped for – no limits comedy, wrapped around songs in which the glorious harmonies let them get away with saying, well, absolutely anything.

And it’s done with great relish - they know where the lines are and simply stride across them with a frankness that has been their hallmark since those glorious early Fringe days. And they do ...

And only the DAAS could sing a song mocking band which reform minus some original members, and do it with a knowing smile and a raised digit, and get away with it.

Near Death Experience is magnificent. The ties that bind them together are evident as they strap their audience in and take them on a roller coaster ride that doesn’t let up until the lights go up.

And it’s finale brings the All Stars full circle by linking the present with the past with genuine poignancy.

But you just know they’ll add a twist. They do.

A group with nothing left to prove, and no intention of going gently into the night. Thank goodness the Doug Anthony All Stars are growing old as disgracefully as possible.

>> Doug Anthony All Stars: Near Death Experience, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), Aug 4-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27

Ed Fringe