If you’ve been touring the ton all day, Playboy is the Monster energy drink of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s a ridiculous parody of Regency’s resurgence in popular media. Imagine if the entire principal cast of Bridgerton had an affair with Mr Darcy, from that encounter ‘Lord Christian Brighty’ would surely be born – the country’s most notorious, and thirsty, rake.
Brighty’s writing and performance is an absolute romp, putting the bi in Byron and giving every male contestant on Love Island a run for their money. The character comedy is a diamond of the season in itself. Full of scandal, intrigue and romance. In one breath there is cupid bows and pigeons with love letters flying about, and in another, there is war and no peace to be seen with sock cannonballs being thrown by the audience.
At times, the humour of the show leans on Mighty Boosh-style surrealism with his choice of props, which really works in the context of this one-man show. There is also a wonderful blend of Regency vernacular with pop culture references of today. Brighty literally opens with the fact he is ‘vexxed’ which feels less like a nod but a cardboard sign that says ‘I <3 Bridgerton’ (and it’s great). At other times, you’ll see Lord Brighty lamenting the loss of his love to the soundtrack of Robyn’s sad bops (and again, it’s great). Christian Brighty *is* great.
The characterisation of Lord Christian Brighty is oddly parallel to the misogyny in this year’s Love Island with his delusion of genteelness and romance. It’s clever writing in which Brighty toys with the audience’s vision of a man based on what he is saying to us – Lord Christian Brighty takes us on a journey of finding his match and partner, whilst also leading us on by doing so. At the start we root for him and commend his passion, and by the end with are openly disgusted by his actions and behaviour (sounds a bit like that villa Mallorca to be honest).
Watching Playboy is a joyful experience, you’re watching someone absolutely thrive on the material they have written. Lord Christian Brighty is a bachelor who loves to love and that is really felt through Brighty’s acting – he loves this character. This bleeds into the audience too, by the end, everyone was passing around a chastity belt key and a wet Mr. Darcy-esque shirt like some strange pass-the-parcel.
In Playboy, the audience interaction is an absolute tonic, including Brighty literally getting his portrait (or what he calls Regency nudes) painted, to trusting the audience to protect his chastity. There were some unexpected twists initiated by the audience members which Brighty couldn’t have anticipated, but he handled them with sharp fast-paced wit that manifested the front row into iconic characters in the show (and that was just by those audience members being themselves). Perhaps, the audience I attended might’ve just been very spunky – however, I do think this is a testament to Brighty’s ability to make a crowd feel at home in an opulent ridiculously-priced imaginary mansion.
It’s not surprising Brighty received a full-house standing ovation by the end of the show, Brighty is fanning a flame under Regency comedy and it's no wonder audiences burn for it.