MIKE MCSHANE

Play: Marlon Brando’s Corset: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2006
Play: Talk Radio: Underbelly, Bristo Square, Edinburgh, 2006
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2008
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2009
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2010
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2011
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2012
Paul Merton: Out Of My Head: New Wimbledon Theatre, London, 2012
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2014
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2015
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2016
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live at The Fringe: Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2017
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2018
Play: Hughie: Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh, 2019
Paul Merton’s Impro Chums: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2019 

Mike McShane is an acclaimed American actor and improvisational comedian. He appeared on the original British television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? He also contributes regularly as part of the team for Paul Merton’s Impro Chums which I have seen at the Edinburgh Fringe for many years.

I saw McShane first perform in 2006 appearing in two plays at the Festival.  The first was Talk Radio – a dark satire on broadcasting excess featuring Phil Nichol and the second was Marlon Brando’s Corset featuring Les Dennis as the tortured writer of a fictional television soap opera.  McShane excelled in both plays but when I saw him turn his hand to on stage improvisation with Merton, Suki Webster, Lee Simpson and Richard Vranch from 2008 onwards, he really came into his own.  He has a very funny face and a magnitude of characters that he can develop with just one line of dialogue or suggestion.  In 2017, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live at The Fringe was revived o stage to great acclaim.

McShane, is one of the regulars with Paul Merton’s Impro Chums who I saw perform the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2018 and 2019.  The show based on audience suggestion is performed by the team of improvisers: Merton, Suki Webster, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and McShane which is different every day.  The performances I saw, featured McShane wittily delivering Shakespearian lines one minute followed by horror the next and so on – his range is enormous and very entertaining.

For the Comedians Theatre Company, McShane directed and starred in one of playwright Eugene O’Neill’s last plays, Hughie that I saw at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019.  I was intrigued by this because I had seen O’Neill’s great play years previously Long Day’s Journey Into Night on stage starring my favourite actor, Jack Lemmon.  The play Hughie is a short two-character study set in the lobby of a small hotel on a West Side street in midtown New York during the summer of 1928. In a nutshell, the play is a long monologue delivered by a small-time hustler named Erie Smith (played by Phil Nichol) to the hotel’s new night clerk Charlie Hughes (McShane), lamenting how Smith’s luck has gone bad since the death of Hughie, Hughes’ predecessor.  The script and acting were excellent and it was a pleasure to meet McShane, a Fringe stalwart after the performance.

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