★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
A well-structured hour with a clever narrative that builds to an emotional climax that delivers one hell of a twist.
From the very get-go, one-man sketch show Steen Raskopoulos has his audience whooping and hollering as he shows off his dance moves in one of the most energetic starts to an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show I've ever seen.
"Where were you on the night of May 26?" - That's the question that Steen asks in an interrogation scene which is central to Steen's latest hour Stay. Through a series of flashbacks we begin to unpick where the subject might have been that night and what might have happened.
Alongside the interrogation scenes are a number of brilliant sketches, my favourite being a six-year-old boy who loses his mother in a supermarket and decides to perform a rap which I can only assume is entitled Mama Come Back.
If Stay proves anything, it's that Steen is a master of sketch comedy, improvisation and story-telling. He has understood the craft of creating an Edinburgh hour better than most. From start to finish, every little detail, every single sketch, every part of audience participation was pivotal in delivering a show which unravelled beautifully as the hour went on.
He has created a well-structured hour with a clever narrative that builds to an emotional climax that delivers one hell of a twist. As Steen began to deliver the twist, the audience go from huge laughter (because Stay is very very funny and Steen's comic-timing is exceptional) to deadly silence as he slips out of character to speak as himself and deliver the poignant climax. Which of course I won't spoil.
But it's a climax so emotional, so raw and so personal that it's no wonder Steen could be seen in tears at the end of the hour. If it was emotionally draining for us as an audience, I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for him.
It's no exaggeration to say that Stay will stay with you for a long time and you won't witness anything else like it at the Fringe.
Steen Raskopoulos: Stay runs until 26th August at 8pm at The Underbelly, Cowgate (Belly Button) Book tickets here.
(This review was based on the performance from Thursday 16th August 2018)