David O'Doherty is such a tremendous natural comic that it was no surprise when he won the 2008 Edinburgh Comedy Awards, his mixture of ramshackle lo-fi musical numbers and lovably grumpy musings both hilarious and charming.
Subsequent shows were assured successes, but O'Doherty has evidently felt the need to challenge himself a bit more this Fringe. He's still doing a more ’traditional’ DOD set later in the evening at the Pleasance, but this year he's also bringing his first fully fledged hour of character comedy to an afternoon slot at the Underbelly.
The good news is that – despite apparent nervousness about the new venture by the comedian (which he himself revealed after warm applause at the end of the show) – Rory Sheridan's Tales Of The Antarctica is a delight.
O'Doherty hasn’t gone all Daniel Day-Lewis, changing his mannerisms and his very essence to astound us with his acting chops. The reluctant explorer Sheridan is very much in the same mould as the actor playing him, the character finding himself in 1917 forced to deliver a lecture on an almost entirely wayward journey which brought him to the Antarctica, all in an attempt to win the hand of his true love Kate Thinsulate. (All that would be required was a picture of Sheridan at the edge of this new world wearing a onesie designed by her father’s fledgling company.)
The story that follows is an imaginatively ridiculous as you’d hope for, Sheridan revealing the details behind the journey, his climb up the ladder of responsibility on the ship he’s set sail on, and also explaining an entirely rational hatred of penguins. (But then it'd be difficult to love something that tastes of socks, surely?)
The show is great fun, revelling in silliness and at its core extremely warm-hearted. Even without his trusty Casio keyboard O'Doherty can do little wrong, and it would be nice to see his new character in further adventures. Rory Sheridan's Mission to Mars, anyone? Hmm, perhaps not…
- David O'Doherty presents: Rory Sheridan's Tales of The Antarctica is on at the Underbelly at 3.20pm until August 28