4 ½ stars
You’re in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language. What will you do?
Obviously, you’ll take a translator on stage with you and do a stand-up gig. Yolav & Graham: Jovial Trauma is almost exactly this. It’s also much more; beyond anything you’re likely to anticipate.
In this double act, we meet two people who seem to be at odds. While Yolav performs his set at break-neck speed, flailing his arms around, clicking his heels, and pacing the stage, Graham quavers. His voice breaks often. He seems extraordinarily nervous and, at times, acutely fearful.
Packed with comedic tropes, none of which are delivered in the ways we’re accustomed to, Yolav & Graham: Jovial Trauma goes well beyond a conventional stand-up performance.
Yes, there’s observational humour, improvisation, traditional stand-up, and banter with the crowd. But, as the name suggests, there’s a dark side to the show.
Humanitarian crises, dictatorships, and the grim reality of war-torn countries aren’t standard comedy fodder. They’re not simply fodder in this show, either, but they are featured nonetheless.
Heavily interwoven with tragedy, social commentary and a build of tension that’s as significant in high energy moments as it is in long silences, this is a performance that keeps us all delightfully on edge.
Yolav and Graham have an exceptional ability to turn a joke in an instant. I’d liken it to a roller-coaster ride, except roller-coasters have more gradual inclines and drops.
We’re laughing at something genuinely lighthearted and before we know it everything has changed. Now we’re cringing beneath a deep sense of devastation. We continue to laugh, but for an entirely different reason.
This is a show that’s simultaneously highly polished and open to impromptu digressions. The two performers clearly have a strong connection, and yet they maintain an impressive sense of divergence.
If you’ve ever seen a stand-up show that disappointed, or even if you haven’t, you must see this one. There’s nothing else like it.
Yolav & Graham: Jovial Trauma will not only have you laughing, it’ll have you questioning the state of the world.
Tickets available from the FRINGE WORLD website.