EdFringe 2023 Review: Blowhole ★★★

“Enthusiastically performed with some well crafted comic observations, Blowhole is a satisfying albeit familiar romp.”

Writer and performer Benjamin Salmon brings Blowhole, an original story to the stage in this solo show which captures the life of a single gay trying to navigate dating, employment and grief. Taking stage in the Pleasance Dome this Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Blowhole finds strong comic beats in its observations on the queer experience, yet its a narrative that will prove all too familiar.

Blowhole centres on a twenty-something gay man living in London. Working part time at a fitness centre, he spends his time indulging in the world of online dating (mainly sexting), hoping his best friend Mark will pick up the check, and attempting to live the life of a fabulous gay socialite. To make matters more challenging, our protagonist also attempts to supress emotions regarding the loss of his father and his growing affection for his best friend.

Entering the venue contemporary gay classics play – Padam Padam by Kylie Minogue, Troye Sivan’s Rush and Lil Nas X’s Montero. It’s a fitting soundscape for this very modern queer tale.The staging is impressive, the central toilet – Salmon’s character’s refuge from the stresses and inconveniences of his day to day life – littered with tokens from his days, Pret cups, Greggs wrappers etc. Built up on a circular mini-stage, the careful craftsmanship captures the chaotic lifestyle of a twenty-something young gay man.

Salmon is an impressive comic presence, crafting an impressive collection of characters in this one-man show. Whether channelling the frustrating hot toffish Laurence, snobbish journo Cosmo, sleazy co-worker Nick, or his hoity-toity holistic therapy loving employer, Salmon is able to establish a diverse mix of supporting players each with their own character, mannerisms and quirks. Salmon’s sassy and quick witted take-downs of these obnoxious characters provide some genuine moments of fun. Some of the most successful comic beats come from Salmon’s character navigating Grindr with a microphone hidden in the set’s central toilet verbalising the upfront sexts he receives.

The trials and tribulations faced by the protagonist include navigating the gay social scene, rejections and body-shaming through apps, and unsuccessful first dates. Blowhole tackles themes that many will feel familiar with in gay-centred storytelling – doing so in an effective way, but nonetheless a strikingly common one. Salmon injects a bit of emotional depth into the proceedings through exploring the protagonist’s feelings of loneliness – whether those through his grief at the lack of time spent recovering from his father’s death or those of the isolating nature of single-life for someone living away from home.

Enthusiastically performed with some well crafted comic observations, Blowhole is a satisfying albeit familiar romp.

Blowhole runs until August 28th. You can get tickets here.

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