Frank Moran with Unmuted Participants brings the ghost of Groucho Marx and his brothers to the digital fringe with Being Frank.
It’s a story of the different masks we all create, and the parallels between the Marxes and the Morans. A storytelling piece that brings both comic and tragic tales together.
Moran is billed as “actor, impersonator, and song-and-dance man”. Rather like Groucho, really, who appeared in films, game shows, and occasionally carried a song.
The Moran brothers and their wider family have a lot of parallels with the vaudevillians. Ambitious mother, quiet father. Of course, bringing the various Marxes on when the narrative gets tough is a coping mechanism, and a winning one.
Not just Groucho’s playfulness, but in one section, Harpo’s miming and sense of fun. If you don’t remember or know the Marx Brothers, you might get a little less from this than if you’re versed in the history of American comedy.
This is a lively show in its own right, though, as Moran reflects on his childhood, sings a couple of songs, plays music and connects effortlessly with his online audience.
Personal stories can sometimes feel self-indulgent, but that’s not the case here. Reflecting on his band of brothers, particularly problem sibling Kevin, Moran doesn’t fall into pity but does honestly discuss tough times.
An absorbing piece of digital theatre with a lot of heart, this is both memoir and stand-up storytelling. It might benefit from a slightly shorter running time, but that’s a small thing.
You can stream Being Frank throughout the Fringe: purchase your tickets here.
*** (and a half)