Tim FitzHigham – The Gambler [FringeTIX]
Tim FitzHigham @ The Garden of Unearthly Delights – The Cupola
8:15pm, Sat 16 Feb 2013
Plucked from the Fringe Guide for my Shortlist – a decision later validated by the recommendation of an old family friend – I admit to having had no idea who Tim FitzHigham was prior to entering The Cupola. With a quirkiness about the text of his précis, I figured he’d be a pretty safe bet.
After a long and amiable chat with people at the tail end of the queue, I wind up being the last punter in the tent, and take a seat in the penultimate row next to the tech’s desk. It’s a pretty bloody good crowd, and there’s no problems with visibility at this venue – FitzHigham regularly projects images and movies onto an elevated screen, and the man himself purposefully roams the width of the stage, directly addressing as many people as possible.
The Gambler focusses on FitzHigham’s fascination with the habit of gambling… but not normal gambling. He’s more interested in the wagers that people make with each other: that one man can cycle from London to Dover and back again before another can draw a million dots, for example. Weird betting – the types of wagers that you’d expect from eccentric Englishmen.
And that very much describes this show: it’s eccentric in the extreme. FitzHigham’s quirky personality – and passion for doing silly stuff (rowing the English Channel in a bathtub, for example) – certainly helps, but as he revisits his Top Ten Greatest Bets in History there’s plenty of eccentricity fodder.
FitzHigham races (on foot) a racehorse over one hundred yards; he wheels a barrow over 20 miles from Ware to Shoreditch; he reels in a mile of rope to facilitate access to the land he needs to attempt to roll a cheeseboard four miles in less than a hundred rolls. And, yes, the dots-versus-bicycle bet is tackled as well.
The Gambler is an enjoyable excursion, and it’s pretty easy to get swept up in the excitement as FitzHigham struggles to attain his self-imposed goals. His storytelling style is great, though I must admit to getting irked by his tendency to repeat small phrases for emphasis. But it’s a show that remains in the “quirky” bracket, rather than being “compulsory”.