I’ll start with a confession: due to the sheer number of shows put on by Brighton Fringe each year, it can be tricky to remember the exact premise of each performance. So it’d be fair to say, as I battled a hangover from the opening Brighton Fringe night at The Warren the evening before, it wasn’t with great glee that I remembered that my first show of the year would be Brain Rinse, billed as a madcap, interactive sketch show with the tag line ‘puppetry of the audience.’
As any introvert who’s been unfortunate enough to get stuck on the front row at a comedy show will attest, it’s harder to blend in if the audience is small. Sadly too for Brain Rinse, with a daytime slot it can be tricky to pull in the numbers, and this was the case. Six of us congregated in the Sweet Werks 2 venue for the opening show of Brain Rinse’s run – seven, if you include the man performing, Mike Raffone.
The show began with a ninja swooping onto the stage whilst announcing that we would be finding our own inner ninjas, through pursuing traits such as endurance and strength. Each of the traits were demonstrated by a different sketch, and each sketch was supported by Raffone as a different character and a member of the audience (some of whom were decidedly more game than others). At times it felt like the show would be good for all ages, until a risqué joke or sudden bout of swearing erupted. Raffone was a whirlwind of enthusiasm throughout, and portrayed his characters with confidence and charm, but sketch shows with heavy audience participation always go more smoothly with a bigger crowd and a later, more boozy slot. Raffone was mercifully sensitive to those who don’t want to get involved, but didn’t shy away either, creating an atmosphere of giggling anticipation. The sketches were exuberant with great props and well-planned characters, but the overall premise was fairly disjointed, and the reason we should be finding our elusive inner ninjas wasn’t really clear.
Did I find my inner ninja? Not really. Did I enjoy a pleasant, entertaining hour? Yep.
Sweet Werks 2, Friday 4th May