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Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists (Edinburgh Fringe Festival): Review

How we stop the fascists Stop right now! Thank you very much. Colin Hoult as Anna Mann in 'Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists'.

Anna Mann sucker-punches the far right in her next world-changing endeavour one hilarious character sketch at a time in How We Stop the Fascists.

In these dark turbulent days, Anna Mann, faded famous actress-cum-group therapist extraordinaire, is going to help us come to terms with modern-day fascism. Who are they? What do they look like? What can you do if you owe a lot of money in Guildford? Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists will answer all!

Writing

Last year Anna Mann cured my depression (-ish), so if anyone was going to be able to take down the modern day fascists, it’s her! Colin Hoult’s chimeric creation returns to the Edinburgh Fringe, hotly anticipated after last year’s simply superb Anna Mann in a Sketch Show for Depressives. What’s so fantastic about Anna Mann as a character and Hoult as a comic writer is how wonderfully the absurd and left-field punchlines are intricately woven into the ridiculousness of their characters. The result is something that is just wonderfully hilarious and razor sharp. Anna Mann, in particularly, is a trying-to-hard has been that ticks off and lovingly mocks all the stereotypical actor tropes to side-splitting effect. But it’s not just Anna that is so well observed and executed; the other Frankenstein’s monsters that Hoult brings to the fray, like the 59 years old white male Nick Crippin, are just as astutely mocked and sent up in flames of laughter.

Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists is a little more political than the last show (I mean, it’s inherently in the title), but this is absolutely not some bias-leaning piece of propaganda. The left get as much of a savage mocking as the right, with Hoult’s sights set on the flaws and hypocrisies of his characters as a way to extract brilliant comedy from, rather labouring the show with a political point: well, apart from “fascism is very bad” which is something most will not argue with.

There are only a few weak spots in Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists: a small handful of the other characters Hoult introduces. They’re just not as sharp and as on point as Anna and their other creations. But it doesn’t break the show or mar it, instead these just comparatively slow the pace down as the laughs in these moments aren’t as peak as elsewhere, though are still damn strong.

Performance

Hoult, as always, is just an insanely versatile and adaptable performer. A large part of what make Anna Mann so funny and fantastic to watch is just how well Hoult reacts and responds to their audience. An unpredictable audience is never an issue for Holt; I actually think they revel in it. Hoult’s adaptability to their surroundings is in turn a reflection of their tremendous and quickfire wit, turning any unexpectedness into a laugh-winning palaver in their favour.

Verdict

If anyone was going to save liberalism, Anna Mann is the super-Mann that will lead the way. Your sides will hurt as much as an Alt-Right commentator’s right cheek by the end of Anna Mann: How We Stop the Fascists.

Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists plays at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), until 27 August 2017. For times, tickets, and prices, visit tickets.edfringe.com.
Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists is also on my “12 Last Minute Picks of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival“.