Marcus Monroe is on a mission. Juggling is a much under appreciated art form. He’s going to get it the attention it deserves – by almost any means necessary. But the landscape for performance is riddled with branding and social presence and “numbers”. You have to do more than one thing these days and as for Monroe, he not only juggles, but jokes, too. “If you don’t like the juggling, then there’s comedy. And if you don’t like the comedy, then why are you here? You knew what you were getting into.” he says, outlining his act to the packed Piccolo tent in the Assembly Gardens.
Fortunately for Monroe, there is much to be admired in both his comedy and his juggling. Not being a circus fan myself, his feats are daring and dazzling, making it hard for me to keep my breathing regular or stop squirming. Genuine edge of the seat stuff here, folks, particularly when it’s happening a few feet in front of you. Accompanied by his loyal, silent PA Anna – “Our dads are friends”, he explains – Monroe is out to get representation and make it big. But fame is fickle. I didn’t expect to smell both cinnamon and lighter fluid in the course of the hour but I do, along with a whistle-stop tour of viral sensations of the past five years, and an infectious enthusiasm from Monroe himself.
There are some neat callbacks and even though this is a relatively straightforward rags to riches to rags tale, juggling – not only balls, clubs and “knorches” but also the various different elements of being a public figure – does add a welcome freshness to the take. The beginning gets a tad mired in explaining the show’s premise and it feels like a while until the actual story begins, but it’s dynamic enough to not let your attention wander. The more cynical amongst you – hello, my people – may find a tale about following your dream a little hard to swallow when you’re playing to a full audience in a major venue but this is ideal for young teens. Apart from the occasional F-bomb, which is hastily apologised about, Monroe’s antic observations of getting by in a digital world will most likely appeal to tweenagers who have outgrown the kids’ Fringe offerings but aren’t quite ready for the more adult shows.
If you’re a teen, definitely.
The Rise and Fall of Marcus Monroe runs until 27th August at Assembly George Square Gardens, 15:00.