For our last show on Saturday night and indeed for us at the Fringe this year it’s our third and final visit to Spank! (We love it) this year. I can’t think of anywhere better to round off the perfect Saturday at the Fringe. It’s at midnight, at Belly Dancer @ Underbelly Cowgate and I’m expecting a marvellous time.
A reminder of the blurb: “Spank! returns for an incredible 13th year with sexy hosts, awesome comedians and the inevitable gratuitous nudity. With the most exciting comedy and cabaret talent on the Fringe, don’t miss the ‘best wild night out’ (Scotland on Sunday) at the festival! Spank! You love it! ‘This is what the festival should be about’ (List). ‘Legendary party night? Get down there right away!’ (Time Out). Previous acts include Rhys Darby, Jack Whitehall, Katherine Ryan, Josh Widdicombe, Adam Hills and many more! Ages 18+.”
Once again our terrific hosts will be the incredible Mr James Loveridge and the delightful Miss Abigoliah Schamaun, and I’m partying till dawn. Well, at least until Mrs Chrisparkle says it’s time to go back to the hotel. Check back very late – or maybe tomorrow morning – to find out if it was the perfect send off, and thanks very much for following our antics at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. If you’ve been up here too, I hope you had a ball!
For our final Spank! James and Abigoliah were absent, off doing Spanktacular instead, so we had Danny O’Brien and Laura Lexx, and although they presented it efficiently they didn’t have the same chemistry together which was a bit of a shame. Still, the acts were great. Brilliant musical comedy (sex face) from Totally Wired; great material from Rory O’Hanlon and Dylan Gott; more musical mashups from Axis of Awesome; ridiculously funny book based material from Christopher Bliss, and absolutely top stuff from Leo Kyle and Janey Godley. The naked promo was provided by one of the show technicians – Dan – and he did it to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust. Brilliant night of comedy!
Staying at the Underbelly, Cowgate, for the rest of the evening, our penultimate show of the Fringe is another comedy play (at least I think that’s what it’s going to be) – Yuri, produced by August 012 Theatre Company, at Big Belly @ Underbelly, Cowgate, at 22:10 on Saturday 27th. This is what the website says about it: “Patrick and Adele can’t have children and then Yuri appears. But who is Yuri? Why is he here? Is he dangerous? Is he Russian? Should we love him? A play about infertility, scrabble, supermarkets, sex, nationalism, the stranger in your living room and the absurdity of wanting to bring children into our deranged world. It’s also about love. Award-winning August 012 in association with Chapter Arts Centre and National Theatre Wales presents the British premiere of Fabrice Melquiot’s absurd comedy. Adapted by Daf James. Directed by Mathilde López.”
Yuri is written by Fabrice Melquiot and was first shown at the Chapter Theatre Cardiff last October, starring Carys Eleri, Guto Wynne Davies, and Ceri Murphy. I’m expecting a high degree of surrealism as a French childless couple “give birth” to a mute, grown-up Russian. As you do. Check back around half past eleven to see if it was worth the risk and by then the preview blog for our final show should be available to read too.
Well that was totally barking mad bonkers, taking surrealism to a new level. Plenty of taboo subjects touched on too, including incest and paedophilia. However, I have to say, I rather liked it! The cast work their socks off to keep the story going whilst interacting with both the audience and the stage manager. A few people left during the show, which I thought was pretty harsh on the performers. Bizarrely enjoyable – the stuff Fringes are made of!
At first sight, our next show looks absolutely brilliant – it’s Michael Burgos’ one-man play, The Eulogy, written and performed by the man himself on at Belly Button @ Underbelly, Cowgate, at 20:00 on Saturday 27th. Let’s look at the blurb: “Winner: Best Comedy, 2016 Adelaide Fringe. Winner: Quirky Award, IndyFringe 2015. ‘A comic gem’ (Washington Post). ‘Hilarious and deftly written’ (Indianapolis Star). ***** (TheatreGuide.com.au). ***** (NUVO). ***** (DCTheatreScene.com). ***** (DCMetroTheaterArts.com). A parody of a funeral, The Eulogy features a menagerie of characters whose inept and inapt speeches give anything but a proper homage. Written and performed by École Philippe Gaulier alum Michael Burgos.”
As soon as I read about this show, I was convinced it was going to be a bit of a masterpiece. With all those awards it’s got to be worth a punt. However, when I read the reviews by Fringegoers who had actually seen it, I very nearly decided to give it a miss. I’ve never seen so many poor reviews! I concluded that I would have to see for myself if it really is that bad. Check back around 9.15pm to see how bad it was and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
A fascinating theatrical experience in many ways. IMHO, it’s neither as bad as the bad audience reviews, nor as good as the good professional reviews. Michael Burgos is a talented and creative performer looking for a vehicle – but this isn’t quite it. Whilst it has plenty of funny and enjoyable moments, it doesn’t project itself into the audience so that we get the message. A case in point – there are a number of instances where he looks for a specific response from individual audience members – and on none of these occasions did I have a clue what kind of response he was looking for, which creates an uncomfortable, embarrassing reaction. I hope Mr Burgos goes away and writes something really deserving of his talents and rises like a Phoenix next year!
Back to the world of stand-up comedy, and someone we’ve seen on TV and he’s just starting to grow on me. It’s Henning Wehn, with his Westphalia is not an Option show, on at Just The Big Room @ Just the Tonic at the Caves, Rowantree Bar, at 18:00 on Saturday 27th. Here’s the blurb, which frankly doesn’t give you much information: “German Comedy Ambassador Henning Wehn is back at the Caves and like every year, Westphalia is not an option. Come along. Or else. Recent TV and radio appearances include Live At The Apollo (BBC Two), Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You, and Room 101 (BBC One). The Immigrants Guide To Britain and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4). Bake Off – An Extra Slice (BBC Two), The Unbelievable Truth (BBC Radio 4). ‘His accent isn’t so much German as indescribable’ (Daily Mail).”
Herr Wehn (it’s so irritating that spellcheck always changes that to “When”) is beginning to get pretty mainstream now and so it’s high time we saw him live. Check back around 7.30pm to see if we laughed and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
Henning Wehn’s new show is all about the nature of immigration. He doesn’t consider himself an immigrant because he hasn’t suffered enough hardships. Why should he?? He challenges our ideas of what is and isn’t racist, and it’s all delivered with his usual Teutonic directness! If I have a criticism, it would be that he doesn’t vary his tone much – it’s full steam ahead all the way! Very funny material; and it’s safe to sit in the front row, you won’t get picked on!
Now this one is certainly going to be a challenge, and comes under the heading of things we wouldn’t see back in good old Northampton. It’s the King’s Head Theatre’s production of F*cking Men, on at Two @ Assembly George Square Studios at 15:55 on Saturday 27th. Here’s the blurb: “After smash-hit, sell-out runs in London, F*cking Men arrives in Edinburgh for the very first time. Do guys only want one thing? And how far will they go to get it? This frank, funny and full-frontal play takes the search for sexual satisfaction to the next level, laying bare the love lives of 10 men as they navigate relationships, infidelity and heartbreak. Guaranteed to set your pulse racing! ‘Fan-f*cking-tastic’ ***** (CultureFly.co.uk). ‘Clever, hilarious and very poignant’ ***** (WestEndWilma.com). ‘Will seduce you theatrically, emotionally and mentally’ ***** (GrumpyGayCritic.co.uk).”
This is a new take on Schnitzler’s famous 1897 play La Ronde, where a couple have a relationship and then move on to the next partner until eventually the Ronde comes full circle. The play has been around for a good few years now and all the reviews I’ve read say that it says more about modern life than most other shows do. So I confess, I’m intrigued. Check back around 5.15pm to see what we thought and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
Beautifully written and convincingly performed by Haydn Whiteside, Harper James and Richard de Lisle, this is a slick production of a very thought provoking play. The inspiration of La Ronde works really well and shows that these one night stands problems are timeless!! Humour and sadness hand in hand. Highly recommended!
Sadly the production of Irons I had been hoping to see was cancelled the day before which left us with a gap to fill in our programme. Mrs Chrisparkle had noticed that 10 Things I Hate About UKIP was getting great word-of-mouth reviews and everyone said you had to get there early to be sure of a seat. So we arrived at T-Bar a good 45 minutes before it was due to start; but twenty minutes later the queue had already got longer than the venue could accommodate, and Joe Wells was regretfully turning people away. Why was it so successful? Let’s read the blurb: “Joe Wells believes that you should treat all people with love and respect, but does that include UKIP voters? Follow up to the critically acclaimed **** (Chortle.co.uk), **** (BroadwayBaby.com) debut show, Night of The Living Tories, Wells presents an hour of stand-up about trying to love people whose politics you hate. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian’ (Guardian). ‘A hidden gem of the Fringe’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Recommended’ (Heat Magazine). Seen supporting Alexei Sayle and Frankie Boyle, heard on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Warning: contains graphic descriptions of Nigel Farage.”
No wonder this is a word-of-mouth success. I’m always appreciative of intelligent, well thought out political comedy, and there’s loads of that to appreciate! Cunningly structured, Joe starts with the self-satisfied smugness of “I’m left wing so I’m a nice person” and self-deprecatingly gives us example after example of why he’s actually not. Really clever and funny stuff – top quality political stand-up!
Our final show of the day – and only four shows today because we’ve also been catching up with old friends we haven’t seen in decades – is back to the world of burlesque and cabaret with Lili La Scala’s Another F*cking Variety Show. It’s on at Queen Dome @ Pleasance Dome, Potterrow, at 23:00 on Friday 26th. Here’s the blurb: “Mistress of ceremonies Lili La Scala and her most beloved cabaret reprobates entertain you at this rollicking late-night show. With sell-out runs at the Fringe since 2012, guests are treated to the very best on the international cabaret, burlesque and comedy circuit. This cabaret spectacular will warm the heart and boggle the mind; previous guests include comedian Jason Manford, The Boy With Tape On His Face and burlesque starlet Vicky Butterfly to name but a few. Come and feast your eyes upon a veritable variety smorgasbord: comedy, magic, burlesque, music and more.”
I do like this review of Miss La Scala: ‘Lili La Scala has the voice of Vera Lynn and the figure of Jessica Rabbit’. I expect the show will be one of those late night, slightly different each night, compilation shows where a variety of performers will come on, do their bit, and then move on. Hopefully we’ll get an excellent selection! Check back around 1am to see if it was a good line-up, and by then the preview blog for Saturday’s first show should be available to read too.
That was about as much fun as an Edinburgh show can be! Lili is a wonderful hostess with the mostest, looks gorgeous and has a fantastic singing voice. She did a brilliant version of Space Oddity that I found really moving. But the acts that made up the show were just sensational! Zach and Viggo were a hilariously goofy magic act; a song from Jai McDowall and he was ace; two fantastic tap dancers, The Tap Pack; a surreally hilarious comic, Tom Walker; Kai Hoffman got me up on stage and made me kneel in front of her – I won’t tell you the rest but I could scarcely breathe for five minutes – and we ended up with the hilarious Lords of Strut, with a routine that involved us pelting Christ with bread and had one of the guys passing himself through a tiny hoop clad only in a clingfilm mankini. You had to be there. Absolutely brilliant!
Without a shadow of a doubt, the funniest thing we saw at the Edinburgh Fringe on our first trip two years ago was Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho. It was so brilliant we went again with friends when he/she returned to the Leicester Square Theatre last year. Now the show is back, in a brand new format: Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows. It’s on at Piccolo @ Assembly George Square Gardens, at 21:00 on Friday 26th. The blurb tells you all you need to know: “Ding-dong the witch is back! Multi award-winning Fringe sensation Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho presents the most fabulous game show of all. Fresh from total sell-out Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs in 2014 and 2015, the Iron Lady has now set her sights on light entertainment. Join Maggie as she makes audience members compete for their golden giro cheque. There’ll be songs, games and of course… catchphrases! ‘So much fun Theresa May will probably outlaw it’ (Chortle.co.uk). ***** (Attitude.co.uk). ‘Glorious camp with political punch’ **** (Times). ‘Dame Edna has an unlikely rival’ **** (Telegraph).”
I predict a riot. Maggie will once again be interpreted by Matt Tedford in his delightfully distinguished and patronising style. The act is a complete hoot and I can already recommend it wholeheartedly to you, even before we’ve seen it! Check back around 10.30 to see if it’s even better than I expected, and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
Once again la Grande Dame de Westminster brings us some song and dance, this time under cover of a game show. It’s immaculately performed, ingeniously put together and very very funny. The audience is split into Strivers and Skivers and we compete to take home the Golden Giro, although, clever Maggie, I don’t think anyone was awarded it yesterday! For me, I slightly preferred “Queen of Soho”, as it has greater plot drive. But this is still very funny indeed and definitely not to be missed!
I very much wanted to see our next show, primarily to cheer the guy on and support his incredible fund-raising for Shelter. It’s Damian Kingsley’s Knock Knock tour, which started back in March and he has travelled up from Cornwall to Edinburgh, gigging virtually every night, with no payment, and all money raised being given to Shelter. He’s on at The Alcove @ The Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, Blackfriars Street, at 15:30 on Friday 26th. This is the website’s brief introduction: “A story about identity and pretentiousness for anyone with a friend or partner who’s become a bit of prick. All donations go to Shelter as part of the penniless tour from Lands’ End. No admission after start.”
I don’t know much about Mr Kingsley, so I do hope he’s funny, but above all I admire him for what he has achieved! Check back around 4.45 to see if he’s thoroughly exhausted by now, and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
An hour of gentle comedy with emphasis on Mr K’s recent mental and domestic trials and tribulations. His recollections of and gratitude for the things his father has done for him are touching and emotional; and he delivers his material with a lightness of touch that wins you over. Part comedy, part therapy, and it’s all in aid of Shelter.
First show on Friday – and a reasonably last minute change of plan – sounds like a very amusing play indeed. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, written by Kevin Armento, and performed by One Year Lease Theatre Company, is on at Pleasance Beyond @ Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, at 12:50 on Friday 26th. Here’s the blurb: “Follow an illicit affair between a student and his teacher from the viewpoint of his mobile phone in a breakneck journey from pockets to purses. A daring, sexy, suspenseful and utterly unique coming of age story. One Year Lease Theater Company’s production of Kevin Armento’s new play thrilled audiences in its 2015 world premiere Off Broadway at New York’s 59E59 Theaters. ‘A supple, fast-paced, highly physical production’ (New York Times, Critics Pick). ‘A gleaming portrait of our collective contemporary existence’ (AmericanTheaterWeb.com). ‘Screams of novelty’ (HuffingtonPost.com).”
This show was a big hit off-Broadway last year, and stars Christina Bennett Lind, Danny Bernardy, Sarah-Jane Casey, Nick Flint and Devin McDuffee. Check back around 2.30 to see how it went, and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
This looked – as we watched it from our seats – like a good production of an interesting play. Unfortunately they had hired a photographer to very noisily click, click, click their way through the entire performance which totally destroyed it for us. It’s quite a complicated script and if you don’t concentrate, it’s hard to follow – and of course, I was completely unable to follow it because of the distraction. Best lesson I’ve ever seen in how to disrespect an audience. Now to the Fringe Box Office to ask for our money back. In 48 years of theatregoing this will be a new one on me!
The Pleasance have offered us complimentary tickets to a show next season. I wouldn’t normally complain to this extent but this one really took the biscuit. I must have reached that age when I won’t put up with shoddy service any more!