Review: Paul Foot: Dissolve

How to change your mind

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Paul Foot
Photo by Jonathan Birch
Published 23 Aug 2023

Paul Foot’s Dissolve is a sublime hour of stand-up, a story told with precision, flowering in detail, with surprising links across every routine. 

Not that it seems to start that way as Foot joyously flaps and pecks his way around the audience pretending to be a bird from a childhood story. His boiler suit makes it seem like Blu the cockatoo from the Rio films is sharing a costume department with Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

Dissolve centres on the exact moment of 4.59pm on 22 March 2022. A moment which changed Paul Foot. And this show is real ‘infinity in the palm of your hand’ stuff – if William Blake's 'Auguries of Innocence' was retold with the narrative digressions of Tristram Shandy. In one routine we’re imagining a contemporary adolescent enduring lunch with a boring relative, the next we’re in Egypt – 3,000 years ago – placed in the sympathetic sandals of a teen Tutankhamun, some serious socio-political upheaval killing the vibe. Foot can lead us through the humdrum of wasting a day with ineffectual red-breasted rage, while the next minute he's imagining a future revolution – a new world built from first principles, sending celebrity knights of the realm into battle like in the good old days.

Startling, shattering, funny – sometimes all at once – Dissolve is a show that tells us life can change in one moment. The worst moments cast long shadows, untethering us from our own lives; other moments – such as one at a minute to five, 17 months ago – might be harder to explain, but they do happen.