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Julia Masli – Choosh! – Assembly Roxy

This has to be seen to be believed. The narrative is not much to write home about – a woman goes in pursuit of the American Dream like so many people who have done the same before. If there is a twist, it’s that her ambitions are entirely reasonable and achievable, and so the conclusion, while celebratory, is somewhat unsurprising. The beauty of this production is in the execution: words are used only when necessary, which makes the show accessible to the Fringe’s international audience – I spoke to a woman from Korea a couple of days after seeing this show, who wasn’t keen on stand-up comedy on account of her less than fluent English: a production of this nature would suit her just fine.

Julia Masli (c) Andy Hollingworth Archive.
Julia Masli (c) Andy Hollingworth.

There’s clowning going on, complete with ridiculously sized trousers and much audience interaction, with that dreaded term ‘audience participation’ technically voluntary, although it would take someone with a heart of stone not to be charmed by Masli’s warm and welcoming nature. But it’s not always immediately clear, at least not from my vantage point, what precisely Masli would like punters to do. On the other hand, that is part of the fun, and keeps the audience engaged.

Masli’s clown character finds herself confronted by the reality of emigrating to America, working a series of jobs from which she gets fired, though not necessarily through any fault of her own – under USA employment law, employers can terminate a job without either notice or a reason, though the legislation works both ways, with employees able to resign with immediate effect. Comedy is teased out even during darker moments in the story – if the show does tears, it’s clown tears, not sentimental or tragic ones.

It’s disarmingly silly, particularly when her legs, with googly eyes stuck onto her thighs, assume the role of bride and bridegroom, and their first night of passion. Our clown settles down very traditionally, with marriage, then sex, then a child – in that order. Rightly, Masli acknowledges at curtain call the efforts of various audience members, including one that impersonated a dolphin (don’t ask) and another who played the role of the clown’s mother, and even had to come up with an encouraging word of advice, duly repeated by Masli at a particularly dark moment. Delightful from beginning to end, this is clowning of the highest order.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

CHOOSH! is an absurd homage to migration. A hungry clown from an Eastern European village travels to America in search of a hot dog; the whole thing told with ‘a wonderful mixture of sketch, gags, clowning and downright silliness’. That last description is from The Skinny, who add: ‘if you’re not laughing, you will at least be asking ‘what the fuck? to the person next to you.’

Listing information:
Julia Masli: CHOOSH!
3rd to 28th August (not 17th)
Time: 9:55pm
Assembly Roxy – Downstairs
2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9SU

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