Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure
A masterclass in surrealist hilarity and lesson in poignant humanity
'It's easier in English', remarks Eddie Izzard as he launches into his third back-to-back performance of Force Majeure that evening. Having already delivered the show to audiences in German and French, the final show is conducted in comfort-zone English. As a comedian, Izzard has long been a student of humanity and without wasting any time on small talk, he begins to ponder the logic that resulted in the practise of human sacrifice across the world.
His set is partly a history lesson, touching on the English Civil War and the Roman Empire, but with his hilarious trademark surrealist lens: the court of Charles I are wearing dogs on their heads, Julius Caesar is immortalised in a salad and a chicken is doling out military advice. A master of his craft, Izzard's repertoire of skills is extensive, mixing sound effects, delightful wordplay, personal stories of his formative years and impressions in a show that ambles from topic to topic without a forced narrative arc.
There isn't a lot of space for the energetic comedian on The Stand stage but it doesn't limit him embodying a range of characters, spinning on his high-heeled boots to conduct two sides of imagined conversations between animals, humans and deities. Usually, Izzard plays large venues and he is perhaps unused to the rapt silence of a comedy club crowd as they 'follow his logic' but he derives plenty of laughter from acknowledging the occasional hush, marking in an invisible book that 'Edinburgh doesn't like moles'.
The content of the show isn't explicitly political (the European Union is mentioned quickly and poignantly just once before he leaves the stage), but the message beneath it abundantly is. Force Majeure celebrates our differences and casts us as citizens of the world, with a shared history and experience as human beings. The three audiences might not speak the same languages, but we're all laughing at the same jokes and there is something very hopeful about that.
Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure is on a world tour until Fri 28 Apr; seen at The Stand, Edinburgh.