performance as the witless and self-deprecating Barnaby
is near flawless. His martini-dry wit is characteristically
sharp, in both script and performance, and his comic timing
Review by Joff Schmidt, CBC
Chris Gibbs is Barnaby Gibbs, a Victorian would-be detective - though he's more clueless Cluseau than sleuthing Sherlock. The monologue is Gibbs' tale of his friendship with the mysterious Antoine Feval - a private detective who bears a curious resemblance to a certain cat burglar... Gibbs' performance as the witless and self-deprecating Barnaby (who describes himself as a man of "ample limitations") is near flawless. His martini-dry wit is characteristically sharp, in both script and performance, and his comic timing is beautiful. A solid recommendation for anyone looking for light laughs at the Fringe, but show up early - Gibbs handily sold out his Saturday performance in the undersized Venue 11.
guileless and absolutely priceless.
Review by Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal
Perplexing, really, how the man from Baker Street gets all the hype when there's a detective with more impeccable credentials in probing the criminal mind, with a bumbling, worshipful assistant who makes Dr. Watson look like a veritable Aristotle in the deduction department. The former is the mysterious Antoine Feval. We meet the latter, one Barnaby Gibbs, in the London of the late 1890s in a clever, sly little solo charmer by the Brit-born comic Chris Gibbs. The last time Chris Gibbs (apparently Barnaby's great-great descendent) was in town for the Fringe, he was espousing "the power of ignorance" in a helpful lecture. This time he's brought a witty narrative about witlessness, a subtle and highly amusing demonstration in strict deductive logic that arrives at preposterous conclusions. After an extensive preamble in which Barnaby reveals, in self-deprecating fashion, his aimlessness in life, he chronicles a memoir about finding his true calling, as an aide to a little-known genius detective, for whom he has unlimited admiration. He discovers the great man when he stumbles across him in a London house late at night, dressed in black, stuffing jewels into a bag -- and instantly concludes that the man must be a detective. It's this knack for keen observation and logic that sets our entirely guile-free Barnaby apart. What follows, in high Sherlockian style, is a case in which he "assists" with multiple misapprehensions. This is an exquisitely cock-eyed, elaborately double -- no, triple-- show, laced with judicious anachronisms about an obsessive comic named Chris Gibbs who's at the Fringe. And we have the fun of being in on the joke, smarter than our protagonist, a specialist in credulity. Sherlockians will be in heaven. Everyone else will be here, laughing hard.
the year’s most perfect script."
Review by Paul Matwychuk, Vue Weekly, Edmonton
Chris Gibbs is such an effortlessly natural, off-the-cuff comedian that it’s easy to overlook what a superb playwright he is. Like his previous Fringe hit The Power of Ignorance, Antoine Feval takes a simple comic premise (in this case, a dimwitted 19th-century Englishman who becomes the Dr. Watson-like sidekick to a brilliant detective, not realizing that his new partner is actually the master thief who’s been robbing the city blind) and masterfully executes it all the way through to the end. Arguably the year’s most perfect script.
of twists, turns, and gadzooks moments."
Review by Kate Pedersen, Now Magazine, Toronto
Clueless good guy Barnaby Gibbs eagerly recounts his adventures with Antoine Feval, an incomparable detective who is more than he seems. Actor Chris Gibbs wins the audience by effortlessly riffing on everything from the lack of air conditioning at the Glen Morris to an audience member's dropped purse, all while telling a story worthy of a funnier Arthur Conan Doyle, full of twists, turns, and gadzooks moments. He makes it look so easy and enjoyable that all the kids will be clamouring for a look at the boxes of papers from Gibbs's attic that inspired this play, if those papers exist at all. Hopefully, Gibbs will be back with more adventures of Antoine and Barnaby in future Fringes.
Review By Dave Jaffer, The Hour, Montreal
Antoine Feval star Chris Gibbs is impossible to ignore in this one-man show about the best detective you've never heard of. Narrated by Feval's doltish sidekick Barnaby, the show is hilarious and quick-witted, unafraid of improvised tangents and digressions from the narrative, and even prepared for sleepy audience members (Venue 8 is a sauna). Sharp, funny and quick on his feet, wily Brit Gibbs is an incredibly generous performer, and his characters are lively and inspired.
masterpiece that manages to be both ridiculous and intelligent"
Review by Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun
Don’t miss this wonderfully wacky and absolutely accomplished piece of playful fun. Chris Gibbs has honed a masterpiece that manages to be both ridiculous and intelligent, mocking so many facets of old-fashioned “footlights” theatre that it’s almost an archival relic of Victorian melodrama. But no, Gibbs is busy unleashing an entirely subversive agenda beneath the surface of his Sherlock Holmes spoof. There’s a “rhyming burglar” afoot in old London, and his encounter with a man possessed of shockingly few brain cells leads to a friendship where one side can’t believe his good luck — and the other hasn’t a clue about what’s going on. The British street performer, now transported to Toronto, has a gift for going off on tangents that pop up from, say, a very strange young woman trying to find her way out of the theatre. Gibbs spent so much time having fun like this on Saturday night (not to mention dealing with another of the festival’s constant “Sweet on the Fringe” fundraising segments by performing outrageous feats of gymnastics) that he actually had to rush things along at one point. No matter, we gave him a standing ovation for having taken the time to craft such a sweet treat.
highly skilled, confident comic actor whose writing is unrelentingly
clever and whimsical"
Review by Adrian Chamberlain, Victoria Times Colonist
Toronto's Chris Gibbs has regularly delivered clever, beautifully-performed comedies at the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival. Antoine Feval is yet another home run — if you mean to see just a few shows this season, add this one on your list. The solo comedy is about a pea-brained Englishman, Barnaby Gibbs, who serves as well-meaning but dull-witted Dr. Watson to a fellow named Antoine Feval. Feval is a thief, but pretends to be a Sherlock Holmes-like detective in order to bilk his hapless sidekick of his inheritance. Barnaby is a dumbo par-excellence — a combination of Bertie Wooster and Hugh Laurie's addle-brained aristocrat from the Black Adder series. Gibbs also plays a full cast of well-defined characters, flipping back and back with a conjurer's deftness. Gibbs is a highly skilled, confident comic actor whose writing is unrelentingly clever and whimsical (in a way that, at times, recalls comedian Eddie Izzard). His 75-minute show is a bona fide tour de force. If you want to see a fringe theatre professional at the top of his game, this one's a sure bet.
by Judy Unwin, Global News, Edmonton
This was one of the funniest hours I have spent at the fringe. Chris Gibbs is an engaging story teller and dynamite at ad lib. When a horrendous bell clanging cellphone went off in the middle of the production twice, he didn't miss a beat but turned it into a very funny part of his show. His story of Antoine Feval will keep you laughing for the whole hour.
of the most cleverly written and performed shows I've ever
seen at the Fringe."
Review By Christopher Hoile, Eye Weekly, Toronto
This show is a delight from beginning to end. Set in 1896, we meet Barnaby Gibbs (Chris Gibbs), a kind-hearted but thoroughly dim-witted young man whose hero is Sherlock Holmes' companion, Doctor Watson. He thinks he finds his Holmes in Antoine Feval, a criminal whose every act Gibbs misinterprets as part of sleuthing. The irony of this first-person limited narrative is deliciously funny, and the enthusiasm Chris Gibbs gives the painfully naïve Barnaby is infectious. Gibbs' observations on the show-in-progress add further layers of irony, making this one of the most cleverly written and performed shows I've ever seen at the Fringe.