Edward James

Edinburgh Fringe review: Tom Stade, Decisions, Decisions

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Anybody familiar with Tom Stade’s trademark blazer, slick hair and designer stubble may be shocked by the unkempt, long curly-haired, and bearded look he’s going for these days.

Setting the Assembly Rooms Ballroom alight (not literally, but very nearly) with spinning spotlights, flashing colours and smoke machines, Stade runs out screaming and immediately lights the room with his inimitable brand of Canadian confidence. As he points out, there are not many jobs where you can start the day like that; it wouldn’t work in Costa.

Stade loves talking to his audience, and one of his trademarks is to pick just a few audience members and make the whole show about them. He will constantly refer back to these carefully selected characters throughout the show, and tonight he picks bucket salesman Vernon, and his wife Sylvia, to represent the more grown-up attitudes of Stade and his wife.

He regales them with tales of spending all their money on nightclubs, gambling, and cocaine, and ploughs through insisting that these are shared experiences for all couples of a certain age. Of course he also talks about the attitude changes that come with the arrival of children, something that the 20-something Alexander and Maria (platonic friends, but not in the eyes of Stade) have yet to experience. They are still currently embroiled in festival going, drug taking, and thrill seeking, as far as this show is concerned.

Decisions, Decisions possibly features the longest warm-up in Fringe history, with Stade taking 35 minutes to even mention the point of the show. Throughout the show Stade faces crossroads decisions, thrown at him by the devil, and relentlessly makes the wrong decision, as far as his future is concerned. Of course it all works out well for him in the end and he asserts that very few decisions, good or bad, have truly long-reaching consequences.

He has an incredible ability to take an everyday experience such as going to Boots to buy moisturiser, and turn it into an epic journey of life-affirming discovery. He evidently takes great joy in his work, laughing confidently at his own jokes throughout the evening, and throwing thumbs-up each time the audience laugh with him.

For all his skill, technique and showmanship, Tom Stade’s style lacks some emotion or realism that could lift him from a great entertainer to an act with true longevity. If this show’s anything to go by, however, he’s probably not bothered about that.


Date of live review: 18 August @ Assembly Rooms, George St

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