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(Brian Logan’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/16.)
Overlooked for an Edinburgh Comedy award nomination two years ago, when his spoof Dracula musical first sunk its fangs into the world, Nick Mohammed surely won’t be so unlucky this time around. Of the shows eligible, Mr Swallow’s Houdini is the most giddily enjoyable I’ve seen, a faux-musical about the life of the great escapologist, again ring-led by Mohammed’s camp, chatterbox alter ego, and featuring extraordinary feats of escape alongside the blithering, convention-shredding comedy.
In short, you get a helluva bang for your buck. It’s a three-man show – Mr Swallow is backed by usual sidekicks Mr Goldsworth (David Elms) and Jonathan (Kieran Hodgson), decked out in oriental tunics for no discernible reason. It’s Goldsworth’s futile job to keep Mr Swallow’s popcorning mind on track, as he derails the opening number to tell us about a woman he recently met at the circus, gets sidetracked by a chat about the urethra, or steps out of character to marvel at a magic trick he himself has just performed. “Oh, piss off! No! No way!”