I first saw Brighty as 1/3 of clown collective Privates, which is an unusual number of balls. Here, he plays a very different kind of testicle in the shape of eighteenth century heartbreaker Lord Christian Brighty – an ancestor, perhaps – in this very enjoyable hour of caddery, invisible ballroom partners, and ships struggling with a surfeit of semen.
The first trick with playing a character is establishing who you are, quickly, and Brighty does this by first disparaging and then flirting with the audience, accompanied by some fantastic prop work and a very funny routine about Cupid.
His character is a bastard, a sex-obsessed flibbertigibbet straight out of Romantic central casting, but he is clearly a lovely and charming man.
Sometimes this gets confusing, as Brighty the performer is extremely kind and gentle with the audience – gleaning some of the funniest moments of the night, particularly when he asks a shy young man to paint him the Georgian equivalent of the unsolicited dick pic – and this clashes occasionally with Brighty the absurd send-up of all the sexist assumptions of all those period dramas.
There are puns. There is exceptional prop and voiceover work. There are horrifying prosthetics. There is an unexpected interlude in the language of love (not German).
And in the end, there is a point, and a drawing of a line between the mores of yesterday and the developing rules of today, where mainstream society and culture is struggling to keep up with the explosion in post-heteronormative relationships, and some people – let’s face it, it’s men – taking advantage of the uncertainty in between.
Or else it’s just a ruddy good excuse for some naughty jokes. One of the two.
Christian Brighty: Playboy will be at Edinburgh I’m sure