Ben Target is the best advert for the Free Fringe. There’s a lot of tripe to wade through, a lot of cringe-worthy moments to endure, but it’s worth it just for that occasional gem – and what a gem Target is.
Target’s entry is symptomatic of his entire show in that it’s odd, very odd. With his face partially concealed, a dummy in his mouth and a hat that should probably only be worn by a child, Target scans his audience, his piercing eyes dart around the room inspecting each member one by one. This makes one feel deeply uneasy; without any prior knowledge of Target, how are we to be sure we haven’t placed ourselves in a room with a lunatic?
We, the audience, are pawns at Target’s disposal and he makes us very wary of our vulnerable position, exploiting it with unnerving audacity. At times he physically mounts audience members, or fondles them, and at one point he has an audience member stand on stage to participate in a ceremony of flagellation – fortunately performed on Target.
Equipped with an exquisite sense of timing, Target makes excellent use of props. At times the faith he holds in some of the items he produces is baffling. You wonder, for example, whether Target has accidentally genuinely deluded himself into believing that his toy car will actually get him to the theatre. And from what part of his person is he withdrawing these items?
This show should come with a health warning. If this wasn’t taking place on stage, it would be taking place in an asylum and no audience member is safe. But this is testament to Target’s originality and acumen as a comic. He can place you in a position where, fearing for your dignity, you scout out the exits, whilst simultaneously he compels you to stay, just so you might see what the bizarre conclusion of all this is.
It is difficult to convey the surreal hilarity of Target’s show, and the relief, undoubtedly converted into laughter, that you feel having not been picked by Target as a means for furthering his comical ends. However, if you go for just one thing only, make it Target’s exit from his show. It’s probably the most original, the most over-wrought and most audacious to be seen at the Fringe. Prepare to be baffled.