”The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much” at Pleasance Dome – Edinburgh Fringe review

© Jake Wadley

A physical theatre tribute to Hitchcock with intrigue, assassination attempts, double-crossings, rapid-fire costume changes, political intrigue, space travel, some irresistible comedy and genuine dramatic innovation? How could you say no to Voloz Collective’s rip-roaring four-man odyssey through the 1960s?

Following a New York French ad executive Roger Clement – like a discount Don Draper with more skills in parachuting – this relentless, sweaty five-hander is utterly watchable – the theatrical equivalent of a well-crafted Netflix thriller. There’s not much point delving too far into the plot (it normally all just washes over you like a vat of fizzy pop) but to describe proceedings as “whacky” would be an understatement.

It feels, with its whimsical and at times slightly surreal tone, very similar to Spies Like Us’ Speed Dial which is running mere metres away. In fact, this show would almost certainly benefit from the other’s larger stage space and audience capacity, given how densely packed both the audience and cast are in an intimate Pleasance Dome space.

You can almost feel John Buchan smiling down on the team here – it’s like an edgier, funnier take on The 39 Steps with lashings of Cold War history and irreverent humour. The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much is adventurous, innovative and at times downright acrobatic, with fight choreography you’d never expect to find at the Fringe.

An extra coup is the presence of musical accompaniment from Frederick Waxman (who also has some of the best gags in the show’s 75-minute runtime), keeping energy high and adding a pulse to proceedings. It seems to be selling fast, so to quote another Cold War globetrotting thriller, catch it if you can.

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