On our first trip to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015, the funniest thing we saw was Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho. A year later, and she re-emerged as Queen of Game Shows – not quite so brilliant a show, but still excellent. Now the blessed Margaret is back, in yet another brand new format: Margaret Thatcher Queen of Club Nights. It’s on at the Nightclub @ Gilded Balloon Teviot, at midnight on the night of Friday 24th. Here’ the blurb: “Former PM and cabaret superstar Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is back… and this time she’s hosting a club night! There’ll be non-stop 80s hits from a non-stop 80s witch as the Iron Lady drops more beats than Theresa May has dropped manifesto pledges. As Corbyn takes his party back to the 70s, Maggie takes hers to the 80s! Featuring dance-offs, lip-sync battles and more, come and join the one female Tory leader who still has public support. You’ll be as Lucky, Lucky, Lucky as Kylie was avoiding marriage to Jason.”
I know this is going to be great, and I’m looking forward to it so much! Maggie will once again be interpreted by Matt Tedford in his delightfully distinguished and patronising style. Check back around 2am – or better still on Saturday morning – to see how much we enjoyed it, and by then the preview blog for our next show should be available to read too.
In the end, this was a very simple format – a fabulous 80s disco, fronted by Maggie together with her two backing dancers, Boris and Jacob. She danced and performed a few of the songs, and there was a “best dancer” competition. We decided to bail out at 2am, but there was another hour of fun and frolics still ahead. If you were expecting a “show” as such, you’d probably be disappointed. But it was a great disco!
The dreaded Brexit had to raise its ugly head at some point during our Edinburgh week – and I could put it off no longer. Our next show has the rather tongue in cheek title Mr Saxon’s Excellently English Evening of Entertainment at 22:05 on Friday 24th at Space 2 @ TheSpace on the Mile. Let’s check that blurb: “Roll-up. Roll-up. England. A place for Saxons and bubble-people. Where NHS protests start in nightclubs, Michael Gove’s a goblin and we sing The Ballad of the Brexit Lady. Cabaret-style documentary theatre with satirical original music. Acts include The Hermit Freak who avoids the news and The Prophet who predicts Britain’s future. Featuring live original songs: England Is… our alternative national anthem and popular hit The Ballad of the Brexit Lady, with guest appearance from Theresa May in drag. With the clashing personalities of the cabaret performers, what could possibly go wrong?!”
Hopefully this will be telling satire, pinpointing everything that’s ridiculous about our current state of affairs. Check back around 10.15 pm to see how good it was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
This little show has a big heart, in the right place, trying to show the joint disasters of Brexit and a rubbish government trying to make a go of it. With songs that contain verbatim statements from the general public about the overall state of the nation, you can’t fault its veracity. A small audience didn’t help the show to soar, and it feels thoroughly low-key throughout; but, as Browning said, I want the heart to scold.
From one element of clowning to another, our next show also sounds like it’s going to be anarchic fun. It’s Garry Starr Performs Everything at Iron Belly @ Underbelly Cowgate at 20:10 on Friday 24th. Take a look at the blurb: “Disgraced actor Garry Starr is going it alone. Following his dismissal from the Royal Shakespeare Company due to “artistic differences”, he is determined to defy his critics by performing every single genre of theatre in under 60 minutes, thus saving the performing arts from their inevitable extinction. A hilarious new physical comedy about overambition and underachievement from Damien Warren-Smith and director Cal McCrystal. ‘An anarchic play-date with a six-foot-two toddler with a mop of fuzzy hair, no inhibitions and far too much raspberry cordial on board. It’s an exhilarating feeling’ ***** (GlamAdelaide.com.au). **** (Herald Sun).”
I don’t know Damien Warren-Smith or his creation Garry Starr but I’m a huge fan of Cal McCrystal, who directed the fantastic Mr Whatnot in Northampton a few years ago – a show so good we had to go back to watch the next day’s matinee as well. From the hilarious Youtube trailer, it looks like there’s an awful lot of audience participation…! Check back around 9.30 pm to see if we enjoyed it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
A compete blast! Garry Starr is a wonderfully vain and ridiculous comedy character and we have a great time because it’s clear that Damien is enjoying it so much. Yes there is a lot of audience participation but it’s never cruel and it’s always absolutely hilarious. His clowning skills shine through, as does his superb ability to look ridiculous. Extra shows in a larger venue at the end of the week is a great sign of its popularity and thoroughly deserved. Catch this performance, you won’t regret it!
One word – Spymonkey – quickly led me to the conclusion that I had to book for this show – and they’ve confirmed to me that they think it’s fun too! It’s the Hijinx production of The Flop at Main Hall @ Summerhall at 161:55 on Friday 24th. Here’s the blurb: “Paris. 1650-ish. Impotence is illegal. When a member of the aristocracy is accused of being less than upstanding, his wounded pride leads him towards a monumental and very public flop. But can a cast of total idiots save a show about a flop… from being one? The creators of Fringe 2016 hit Meet Fred team up with clown supremos Spymonkey to present an anarchic, slightly rude, hilarious slice of stupidity with live music and unfeasibly large wigs. ‘Sharp, funny and vastly entertaining’ (Lyn Gardner, Meet Fred). ‘The humour here is brilliantly black’ ***** (Herald, Meet Fred).”
This sounds absolutely hilarious, and I expect, very rude. I’m sure the Spymonkey magic will weave its way into this production to great effect. Check back around 6.15 pm to see how funny it was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
That was very good fun, with all the hallmarks of Spymonkey idiocy that you would expect. A very engaging cast throw themselves into it and there’s a nice degree of audience participation. My only slight quibble would be that the script itself could be a little tighter and funnier; the comic business was excellent but sometimes the lines weren’t quite up to it. Still, very enjoyable and silly!
Next up is a quite serious sounding play that I hope will be exciting and stirring. It’s Heaven Burns at Downstairs @ Assembly Roxy at 14:35 on Friday 24th. This is how the blurb describes it: “Morayshire, 1662. Runaway Isobel works for charismatic witch-pricker John Dixon. She worships him, but when he’s accused of falsifying his identity, will she accept that he’s not the man he claims to be… or indeed a man at all? A pitch-black exploration of gender politics and religious fundamentalism. Winner of the Assembly Roxy Theatre (ART) Award.”
This sounds extremely interesting, with a historical slant but taking themes that are relevant today, I’m hoping for a challenging, riveting play. Check back around 4pm to see if we enjoyed it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Very strong cast perform a tightly-knit dark play, that recreates those gloomy, terrifying witch-hunter days, but with an interesting, gender-switching aspect. Not the most exhilarating show at the Fringe but far from the worst!
Next up is an intriguing sounding comedy play that I hope will entertain and challenge a little too. It’s Amidships Theatre Company’s Spoiler Alert, at Ivy Studio @ Greenside @ Infirmary Street, at 11:25, Friday 24th. Let’s read the blurb: “Maddy and Jim’s relationship is having problems. Amazingly, it’s not because Jim has forgotten her name, but because Maddy’s suddenly become prophetic. As she ventures through Prophetics Anonymous and Prophetic Pride, the disheartening futures of her primary school students and a startling discovery about her boss, Jim tries to support her while also trying to remember her name. Winner of Cambridge Footlights’ Harry Porter Prize 2018, Spoiler Alert is an uproarious comedy about juggling your love life with seeing the future. ‘Spoiler alert, you’ll have a really good time’ **** (Varsity.co.uk). ‘Hilarious and thoughtful… subversive, astute’ ****1/2 (TheTab.com).”
This sounds inventive and thoroughly enjoyable, in a surreal, ludicrous way. Check back around 12.45pm to see what we thought. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
There’s a germ of a good play in there…. but I’m afraid Spoiler Alert isn’t it. There are more holes in the plot than in a string vest. I also didn’t understand why the proposal changes the course of history… The cast performed over-the-top as if they were in the Albert Hall rather than an Edinburgh studio. Didn’t work for me, I’m afraid.
I’m afraid we have form for not making it in to this early morning show, Dead Duck Productions’ Present and Correct, at Mint Studio @ Greenside @ Infirmary Street, at 10:20, Friday 24th. Here is the blurb: “Present and Correct, the University of York’s superb sketch troupe are heading back to the Fringe with an all new smash show. Featuring writing and performances from the finest up and coming talent, this is one sketch show you won’t want to miss. Described as ‘seriously funny’ (EdFringeReview.com) and ‘punchy, relevant and entertaining’ (Nouse), this is the perfect way to start your Fringe day!”
We saw the Present and Correct team in 2016 and it was a very funny way to start the day; but we aimed to see them last year and simply couldn’t get up and out early enough. Fingers crossed for this year, as this is a fast moving and funny sketch show performed by a very likeable bunch of young people. Check back around 11.30am to see if we made it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
I’m afraid we didn’t make it. I set the alarm at the wrong time. My bad. Soz.
To end the evening we have yet more comedy in the form of 2 Girls, 1 Cup… of Comedy at Just the Snifter Room @ Just the Tonic at The Mash House at 23:15 on Thursday 23rd. Here’s what the blurb has to say: “Award-winning comedian Samantha Baines (Lee Nelson’s Well Funny People) brings you a selection of the best comedians at the Fringe. A supersized cup of comedy with TV names as well as the very best new comedians and brilliant guest MCs. Join us for some late-night laughs! ‘The gift that keeps on giving’ (HuffingtonPost.co.uk). ‘Hilarious’ (BroadwayBaby.com).”
So this is going to be one of those unpredictable comedy shows with some guest comics and presenters and who knows who will turn up or what will happen. I’m not familiar with the work of Samantha Baines but I’ve seen a few minutes of her on Youtube and she seems very funny! Check back around 1am – or maybe tomorrow morning – to see how much fun it really was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
What a terrific little find! This little comedic gem is hidden away in an airy upstairs room at the Mash House and works really well. Sam Baines is a hilarious and welcoming host, and our four acts were all brilliantly entertaining: the excellent Archie Maddocks, the soon to be deported (apparently) Emily Ferrier, the bright and cheeky Jake Howie, and the quirky (and amazing) magician Claire Lenahan. This will definitely become part of our future Edinburgh routine!
Next up is another of my favourite comedians, and someone else whom we’ve already seen a couple of times this week in Spank! and that’s James Loveridge at Just the Attic @ Just the Tonic at The Mash House at 21:00 on Thursday 23rd. Here’s what the blurb has to say: “Despite the world being on the brink of collapse, it’s fair to say James is the happiest he’s ever been. He’s just got engaged, his relationship with his cat has improved (subject to change), now all he has to do is not f*ck it up! Best Show nominee at Edinburgh Fringe 2016 (Amused Moose). ‘Undoubtedly the best free show that I have seen at the Fringe’ (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘Animated and confident, with a fine sense of timing’ (Steve Bennett, Chortle.co.uk). ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). **** (Skinny). **** (ArtsAwardVoice.com). **** (EdFringeReview.com). **** (FringeBiscuit.co.uk).
That’s exactly the same blurb as last year! Oh well, if you’re onto a winning formula… That may be because he’s using some material from his last year show mixed in with some new stuff – it will be interesting to see how that works! I might as well describe him in exactly the same terms I did last year too: James has got a great stage presence and I’m looking forward to an hour of general silliness with the occasional stand back in amazement insight. Check back around 11pm to see how much fun it really was. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
James is one of those comedians in whom you can have complete confidence that they will be in total control of the show, and will enjoy doing it just as much as we enjoy watching it. Crammed full of material, and with a truly punchy delivery, we hear all about the preparations for his wedding later this year and about many of his fears and concerns did it to be a great day. An enormously fun hour with more laughs than you can shake a stick at.
Now it’s time for another favourite performer and someone that I have seen perform live several times, and that’s John Partridge: Stripped, at Assembly Checkpoint, at 18:30 on Thursday 23rd. Here’s the blurb: “Stripped is a new beginning. A reintroduction of myself. Life has a way of hardening you, at least mine has. This is my attempt at shedding those skins, saying goodbye to part of myself and embracing someone I knew a long time ago. Through film, music, poetry, song and dance, I share my story and in turn ask the audience to consider theirs. From boy to man, sexuality, sobriety, success, love and loss. My pictures, memories, moments. Featuring original music and choreography alongside the soundtrack of my life. Bowie, Bush, Buckley and more.”
I know that Mr Partridge has undergone something of a personal transformation over the past year and I think he looks on this show as part of that personal development. Hopefully we’ll get to see something of the real him and not just the actor hiding behind a script. Check back around 8pm to see what it was all about. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
More intensely personal than I had expected (even though I knew it would be intensely personal!) this is a heartfelt journey through the really important moments in John’s life and how he has fought through the dark times to still come out bright and sparkling on the other side. Musically fantastic, a great choice of songs including some very moving numbers written by him. An emotion-filled hour – and fantastic scones! Highly recommended.