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Rhys Nicholson: Rhys! Rhys! Rhys – Underbelly Bristo Square

The first time I saw Rhys Nicholson at the Edinburgh Fringe, I went because I had time to spare between seeing a show a friend was in and seeing a different show another friend was in. Having seen him several times in subsequent years, his quick-fire delivery and flamboyant style still impresses. This time around, Rhys! Rhys! Rhys! is an apt title for his comedy show, as the narrative is rarely, if ever, about anything other than himself. It’s a longitudinal story, stretching as far back as his school days, when he would ‘be hanging out’ (his choice of words) with straight boys his age, with all the social awkwardness that goes with the territory.

Rhys Nicholson: Rhys! Rhys! RhysSchadenfreude was a running theme, whether it’s him and his partner Kyran Wheatley not talking when out to dinner at a restaurant, because they’re listening in to a first date at an adjacent table not going to plan, or a wedding that contains a screw-up at some point during the day that is so spectacular it’s spoken about by those in attendance decades later. Nicholson does have a point here – my memory of weddings that really were as close to perfect as is humanly possible is non-existent, but I do remember the cockups.

In Australia, where Nicholson comes from (I almost wrote ‘in his native Australia’, but I clearly wouldn’t have been paying enough attention, given his complimentary remarks about the indigenous population there, if I’d stuck to that), same-sex marriage is still a new thing and gays are still completely excluded from giving blood under any circumstances. Too high risk, apparently.

They – new pronouns get introduced part-way through the show, and there isn’t a way of not revealing the biggest spoiler of the evening and respecting pronouns at the same time – feels close to their father but knows next to nothing about him. Father and son are not estranged – it’s just that he’s a man of very few words. There’s a lot crammed into an hour, with talk of blue movies (not just Avatar), house pets, breasts and the best time to go to the gym and why, amongst other things. As ever, Nicholson delivers a witty and brisk performance.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Following an incredible Australian and New Zealand tour where their new show, Rhys! Rhys! Rhys!, garnered multiple award wins, sold out seasons and stellar reviews, Rhys Nicholson is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for his eighth full season.

Edinburgh Fringe Underbelly Bristo Square Wed 3 – Sun 28 Aug at 8.25pm

London Leicester Square Theatre Fri 9 & Sat 10 Sept at 9.30pm

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