Comedian sees the funny side of Amazon reviews

Richard Gadd in a scene from Amazonia
Richard Gadd in a scene from Amazonia
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He has already picked up the most prestigious prize at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Now one of Scotland’s rising comedy stars, Richard Gadd, is set to make his film debut in a “dark and twisted” drama based on real-life online reviews of products.

The Fife-born comic will play a supermarket checkout worker who pretends to be a chef online in Amazonia, which tells three interlocking stories and is billed as an exploration of “loneliness in the age of consumerism”.

Writer and director Dominic Hicks has adapted a script from a series of genuine amazon.co.uk reviews for the short film. Gadd’s character, a violent predator who buys a set of kitchen knives online, is said to be partly inspired by Robert De Niro’s New York cabbie Travis Bickle in the hit 1976 film Taxi Driver.

He has already filmed his scenes in Amazonia, as has fellow comic Rachel Stubbings. Hicks is hoping to enlist an “A-list” comic for the final story to help secure a premiere at a major festival such as Sundance or Cannes.

Hicks said: “The original idea came from a morbid obsession of mine with Amazon reviews. I find it really interesting how much people talk about their private lives in Amazon reviews.

“The film functions as a satire on how much we invest in and fetishise products, how much we lie online and how easy it is to present a false self these days.

“It’s about lifting the veil a little bit and having a look at what their lives might actually be like behind the reviews they have written. It’s taking something quite bland and turning it into a really personal story.”

Gadd, who is originally from Wormit in north-east Fife, said: “I just thought the whole idea behind Amazonia, of creating a back story of characters behind these real reviews, was very clever. Loads of people seem to spend their lives putting reviews online, so it’s really interesting to add a sinister context to that.

“I like the idea you could be reading these innocent, throwaway reviews of something that could mean so much more to the person that has written them.

“My character is a wannabe chef who works in a supermarket. You soon realise that he is nothing like he says he is. He is trying to fulfil his own self-esteem by trying to be somebody else.”

Gadd has previously appeared on screen in the E4 comedy Tripped and the ITV sitcom Vicious. However, he is about to appear in his biggest TV role to date in the BBC2 drama All About Us, which explores the famous battle over Britain’s anti-gay laws which erupted in the 1950s over the jailing of four young men.

Gadd, who has built up a cult following on the Fringe in recent years, had a huge hit in 2015 with Waiting For Gaddot, despite only featuring briefly in person in the show, which was mainly pre-recorded.

He won the main Edinburgh Comedy Award last year with Monkey See Monkey Do, a deeply personal show about modern-day masculinity and being sexually assaulted.