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The Vanish Inquisition (Edinburgh Fringe)

This new comedy at the Underbelly is billed as 'a surreal and riotous journey of self- discovery, self-obsession and self-destruction'

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Sometimes in Edinburgh, you just have to treat yourself to the run-of-the-mill, exquisitely desperate solo fringe effort that attracts a mystified tea-time audience to a damp cavern in between their more pressing engagements such as eating and sleeping.

I had hoped that The Vanish Inquisition, in which stand-up Richard Turner, a sort of Yorkshire yarn-ripper with Ali G tendencies, plays four comedy misfits, might be that show for me this year. It is not very good, and painful in parts. But it's not totally terrible, I'm sorry to say.

Craig Lomas' spartan design immediately gives the game away, showing a life-size cut-out of the actor with an equally one-dimensional backing group of the four characters he proceeds to impersonate in search of himself.

These are a cheeky Northern comic in a tight-fitting salmon suit; a Borstal boy haunted by the voice of Alan Rickman and his mother's rubber-gloved disciplinary hand; a vampiric Romanian lady body-builder with a blonde wig and a fanny bulge; and a kick-ass West Coast life-coach with short arms called Rudy Babylon who for some reason kept reminding me of Antony Sher in The History Man.

Lomas cleverly keeps the show rolling (just about) with voice-overs between his off-stage quick changes, but he's so keen to big up his alter egos in external, flamboyant gestures and speech (and he throws himself around a lot) that you stop caring – if you ever started – about why these dire dudes want so much to find their creator. Well, at least I can say that I've seen it…

The Vanish Inquisition continues at the Underbelly, Cowgate until 25 August