“Daniel Bye’s energy and wit are utterly infectious”
There was no better way to set the tone for Daniel Bye’s storytelling show “Going Viral” than the way in which he began: simply appearing covertly from the audience, charmingly and verbosely commentating. A one man show such as this one requires charisma, boundless energy and utter command of a room to be pulled off correctly: and I am very happy to say that Bye did so with flying colours.
Without revealing too much, the story revolves around two themes: grief, and viruses. It tells the story of a worldwide epidemic of a disease which causes uncontrollable weeping, and along the way the audience expect to learn a surprising amount of information about viral biology. This was the only show I’ve encountered so far which listed a doctor of Epidemiology in its crew, and the touch of real-world expertise lends rock-hard substance to Bye’s tale.
And what a tale it was: intercut with inventive illustrative examples (my favourite being an extremely clever metaphor involving an unholy amount of liquorice allsorts), Bye’s seventy minute story took the audience on a journey through both medical conditions and the human condition, with an atmosphere so thick and engrossing that I often forgot to make notes. As someone who is often disappointed by the predictability of many plots both written and spoken, this realistic and unpredictable tale was a breath of fresh (if pathogen-laden) air.
And by far the most entertaining facet of the story was Bye himself, who approached what for others would be a daunting subject matter with razor-sharp humour and a seemingly ineffable confidence – but his greatest trick was to pull this off whilst still retaining that touch of the everyman which had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand from beginning to end. In short, Daniel Bye’s energy and wit are utterly infectious.
Combined with subtle but theatrical lighting, the drama was solid enough to break a pool cue over.
However, without giving too much away, I was left slightly disappointed by what seemed an oddly enigmatic and anticlimactic ending. After becoming so wrapped in the world Bye creates, it was almost akin to disappointment of the last bite of a cake dropping from your fork and onto the floor.
However, this did little to affect the rest of what was a noteworthy and slick performance. Daniel Bye and his team should be extremely proud of what has proven to be one of the best storytelling performances I’ve seen at Fringe yet. This is not one to be missed.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 8 August)
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