Review – The Comedy Crate present The British Comedian Of The Year, Northampton Heat, Charles Bradlaugh, Northampton, 27th September 2022

BCOTYSo here’s something a bit different. At the Charles Bradlaugh last night, the Comedy Crate hosted the Northampton heat (who knew there was one?) of the British Comedian of the Year competition. Ultimate prize for the winning comic – £10,001. I guess that last pound is put in there because, like the subject matter, it’s a bit funny. Compered by Ben Briggs, nine comedians took to the stage with a ten to fifteen minutes set to win the hearts, minds and votes of the audience. Masai GrahamYes, after they had all performed we had an app through which to select our favourite two comedians. And at the end, Ben announced the two acts that would go through to the next round. Our third place choice goes forward to some kind of repechage/punch-up behind the bikesheds to see if they can also squeeze through.

Danny ClivesI can’t recall ever attending a comedy night like it. Hugely entertaining, and of course, by its very nature, full of variety. With such a short set, it’s unlikely (although not impossible) that any one performer would outstay their welcome. But that’s not a bad way of assessing which acts to vote for. Harvey HawkinsYou’ll definitely favour those, when they’d finished, you thought damn! I want more of this person! rather than those who you thought to yourself thank goodness that’s over. It’s also difficult to make a choice when you’ve seen some of the acts recently and already know their material, and then compare them with acts whom you’ve never seen before so their whole routine is as fresh as a daisy. But that’s a delicate problem for you to work out in the privacy of your own app moment.

Kirsty MunroThe structure of the night was to have three acts followed by a break, another three and a break, then the final three and a break during which you voted. A little like the Eurovision Song Contest, your appearance in the running order is oh-so-important. Jay HandleyYou don’t want to be first, you definitely don’t want to be second, you probably don’t want to be last. Halfway to two-thirds of the way through works best.

Jack GleadowAct 1 was Masai Graham, twice winner of the Edinburgh joke of the year award. He told them to us again, and yes, they’re pretty good jokes. I admire the way he can get four or five laughs out of four or five punchlines all from the same set-up. He’s a clever chap. Act 2 was Danny Clives, who announced he was unprepared for the contest, and I couldn’t work out if he was genuinely unprepared or acting unprepared. Either way, he’s got great material, nicely underdelivered. Act 3 was Harvey Hawkins, who delivered his excellent material with confidence, precision and a beautiful structure, which I always admire in a comedy set.

Kate MartinAct 4 was last minute replacement Kirsty Munro, who was very full-on with her sex-based material; tremendously confident but I think I would have died from embarrassment if she’d asked me some of the questions that she asked those in the front row. Act 5 was Jay Handley, who trades very successfully on his Jesus-lookalike status, but whose material goes much further than that and was extremely funny. Act 6 was Jack Gleadow, whose act I have seen a few times recently and includes some brilliant ideas, like the Popcorn Tindr and the differences between shopping at Primark and at Argos.

David StanierAct 7 was Kate Martin; her material centres on her height and sexuality, is extremely inventive on stage and we didn’t want her to stop. Act 8 was David Stanier, whose humour is of a very different style; he felt to me more like a children’s entertainer, with a level of surrealism into which I couldn’t really tap. Act 9 was Trevor Bickles, a London taxi driver and you can tell that from the start. Again hugely confident, great delivery and very recognisable material in that you can identify with the situations he creates for us. A good laugh indeed.

Trevor BicklesAfter quite a lot of deliberation, both Mrs Chrisparkle and I voted for the same two – and as this isn’t a secret ballot, I can tell you our choices were Kate Martin and Jay Handley. There was one other act whom we both wanted to vote for but who included one joke that we both thought was beyond the pail for the occasion, no names no pack drill. In the end, when the votes were tallied and the executive committee had run the numbers through a double checking verification procedure (I jest) the audience’s choice to go through to the next round were Jay Handley and Jack Gleadow, with Kate Martin in that perilous third place.

A fantastic night of comedy which we both really enjoyed. Hopefully this can become an annual feature!

Review – Screaming Blue Murder, Underground at the Derngate, Northampton, 17th September 2022

Screaming Blue MurderI expected sadly to have to sit out all this autumn’s Screaming Blue Murders as they had been changed to Saturday nights, and Mrs Chrisparkle and my Saturday nights book up very early. However, a last minute change of plan meant that we could go, so hurrah for that. And, despite the fact that this season’s Screaming Blues have been strangely omitted from the printed brochure, it was a sell-out, so they’re obviously all doing something right.

Dan EvansAnd it was a delight as always to be welcomed and entertained by the one and only Mr Dan Evans, who had his work cut out from the start by front row Shirley from Wootton, who was definitely up for a spot of interaction. We also met laid-back Sonny, Architect Andy and wise-cracking Ian. Dan did absolutely the right thing by starting the evening off with a heartfelt round of applause for Her Late Majesty – it’s always difficult to gauge the right level of respect, especially with something that’s frequently as disrespectful as a comedy gig! But it was the perfect way to recognise the official mourning period. He could then proceed with his usual brand of cheeky chatting with the audience.

Robert WhiteFirst on stage was Robert White – a true Screaming Blue regular; I worked out that this was the seventh time we’ve seen him here. Now a Britain’s Got Talent alumnus, he has the special trick of being Asperges, gay and totally lacking in inhibition. With his trusty keyboard he can whack out any number of comedy songs about any number of audience members. Despite trying hard, he didn’t manage to discover any other gays in the audience, but it didn’t stop him from delivering some classic Robert White embarrassment songs and interactions. Whether or not we weren’t quite sufficiently warmed up I’m not sure, or whether it’s that he’s normally headlining or at least second in the bill, but his material didn’t always land quite so surely as it normally does. But then, with many people feeling the loss of Her Majesty, perhaps this wasn’t surprising.

Naomi CooperNext up was Naomi Cooper, whom we’d seen four years ago, and she’s much more sure-footed with her material and delivery than she was then. She has enjoyable routines about being a “slut” (her description) and dealing with her mother. There’s no one single outstanding aspect to her act, but she sets up a nice rapport with the audience and there were lots of good laughs.

Christian ReillyOur headliner, and another act we’ve seen several times, was Christian Reilly, master of the comedy guitar parody/pastiche. With his perky straw Stetson he gives the impression of being a country and western wild boy, and his Bruce Springsteen always goes down a storm – although my favourite of the night is his idiotically brilliant Bryan Ferry. It feels effortless, although I bet it isn’t, and the audience roared their approval. A brilliant way to end the night.

The next Screaming Blue is scheduled for next Saturday and includes the brilliant Russell Hicks – gutted that we can’t be there, but you should go!

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 – The Final Analysis and 5* Shows

So, we did it! We saw 125 shows between 5th – 29th August and the standard was extraordinarily high. I also learned a lot about planning for a Fringe month rather than a Fringe week. For a Fringe week, you can be confident about packing as much into it as you possible can – you can always sleep on the train coming home. For a month however, you can get a burnout if you try to do too much. We found that we cancelled many of our late night shows because we were just too tired to do them justice; and we discovered that if I left too many gaps throughout the day (for meals, drinks, shopping etc) then you lose the adrenaline rush and it’s harder to pick up the enthusiasm again. This is particularly important from, say, 9pm onwards. But I am well prepared to plan next year’s Fringe already, and am ready to avoid the pitfalls I fell into this year!

But let’s look at these shows again. We saw 53 productions that you could loosely call “plays” and 18 of them were 5* status. We saw 52 shows that you could list as “comedy”, and of these 23 merited 5* – that’s a massive proportion! Additionally, 2 of the 4 dance productions we saw were 5*, 3 of the 6 Spoken Word events were 5* and, on a slightly lower proportion, 3 of the 11 “other” shows (cabaret, circus, magic, etc) gained 5* from me. At the moment, I’m finding it hard to identify my favourite, or even my favourite(s) from all these 5* productions, so let’s do a quick run-down of them, in the order that we saw them, and my on-the-spot reactions on the night:

THEATRE/PLAYS:

The MistakeThe Mistake – It’s not often that a play leaves you almost lost for words. The Mistake is a heartstopping, blistering piece of theatre, telling the story of how atomic power was developed and misused to devastating effect. Michael Mears and Emiko Ishii create a cast of characters who either caused or suffered from the 1945 attacks on Japan, using just a few props with amazing inventiveness. Vital viewing for everyone.

Feeling AfraidFeeling Afraid as if Something Terrible is Going to Happen – Here’s another “false testimony”- type play given a brilliant tour de force performance by Samuel Barnett who has a huge number of words to remember! You can’t know what to believe and what not to believe as he pieces together the various stages of his relationship with “The American”. Both funny and occasionally ghastly, the play holds your attention throughout; and Mr Barnett is on fabulous form.

About MoneyAbout Money – A splendid way to start the day with a very thought provoking, and brilliantly written play about poverty and responsibility amongst young people and the things they make you do. Great performances, especially from the amazing child actor Lois Hagerty. Touching and moving; it’s incredible how using just two chairs and wearing two red caps can say so much.

Mrs RooseveltMrs Roosevelt Flies to London – An extraordinary story, well told, with great vocal characterisations and a wonderful sense of humour. It’s also very informative; for example, I didn’t know FDR had polio, nor that Eleanor Roosevelt played such an important role in the declaration of human rights – still a hot topic today. An assured and very enjoyable history lesson!

Please Feel Free To SharePlease Feel Free to Share – A liar gets addicted to lying by attending various self-help sessions pretending she is out of control. Very clever writing, matched by a very convincing performance. It’s also very thought provoking. Loved it!

Conflict in CourtConflict in Court – If you liked Crown Court (if you’re old enough) you’ll love this. A fascinating court case, beautifully realised, full of great interaction – and when the final truth came out the whole audience gasped! Plus you get a free pie and a pint and they were both delicious. Absolutely brilliant – really loved it!

BoyBoy – This is such an inventive way of telling an extraordinary story. Two amazingly good actors do a really strong script justice. Very moving, very sad, but also loads of humour. Never have soft toys played such a relevant role in serious drama. Just what you’d expect from the team who produced Us/Them. First class indeed.

An Audience with Stuart BagcliffeAn Audience with Stuart Bagcliffe – The story is kept secret in the promotional material and it’s important it stays that way. Suffice to say there are many twists to Stuart’s tale. But it’s blisteringly well told and there’s a fantastic performance by Michael Parker as Stuart. Only a tiny venue, so book early!

DorianDorian – Well, there’s dramatic and there’s dramatic, but this is super-dramatic! Incredibly intense, Dorian is a powerful, strongly-building adaptation that has you on the edge of your seat. I’d go so far to say this is a better adaptation of Wilde’s original than Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray. Some excellent performances, brilliant stagecraft – the fight scenes are superb – all topped off with a stunning lighting and sound design. A mini-masterpiece!

Dog ActorDog/Actor – A true masterclass in acting from Stephen Smith in this Berkoff double bill. Berkoff’s superb writing demands excellent characterisations, and that’s exactly what Mr Smith delivers by the truckload. He’s also amazing with the physical theatre – in “Dog” particularly you really got a sense of the powerful and aggressive Roy. An enthralling show!

Shoddy DetectiveA Shoddy Detective and the Art of Deception – They may call themselves Shoddy Theatre, but there’s nothing shoddy about this brilliant piece of nonsensical, physical theatre, packed with terrifically ludicrous scenes, hilarious characterisations, knockabout humour and superb stage fighting! Loved every minute of it.

Death of an AuthorDeath of an Author – A very clever premise,  excellent performances, extremely well written, and surprisingly moving. Lots to think about – and truly intriguing for literature buffs! I shan’t reveal who murdered the author…. but no jury would convict! I also liked how the detective did a spot of mansplaining!

Words Without ConsentWords Without Consent – Verbatim text of women in interviews combined with politicians’ comments on the role of women in society and the dangers faced daily from men. Extremely well staged, great use of video projections and two first rate performances. Take note of the trigger warnings; many of the things said in this production shake you to the core. A thrilling, appalling and vital work.

CandyCandy – Brilliant storytelling, both in Tim Fraser’s riveting play and Michael Waller’s spellbinding performance. At first, I thought the content of the play was going to position itself as some kind of analogy or symbol. But then I quickly decided it wasn’t that, it was just a straightforward story about a man falling in love with his mate, but only when Billy presents himself as Candy. Fascinating, thought-provoking, at times hilarious, at times deeply sad. We absolutely loved it.

Charlie WilliamsEh Up Me Old Flowers – An excellent portrayal of Charlie Williams, by Tony Marshall; and the play itself is full of great storytelling, and ultimately is remarkably moving. You don’t have to remember Charlie Williams from the 70s, but it helps if you do! The play posed fascinating questions about whether Williams was complicit in spreading racism, or did he pave the way for the likes of Lenny Henry or Gary Wilmot? I was really surprised to find I had a tear in my eye at the end. Way better than you might possibly expect!!

WilfWilf – That rare thing – a comedy that is extraordinarily creative in its subject matter, confronts headfirst disturbing issues like domestic abuse and mental illness, and is also jaw-achingly funny. Beautifully staged and performed by Michael Dylan, Irene Allan and Neil John Gibson, there’s no way this play won’t have a life beyond the Fringe. Absolutely magnificent!

ClosureClosure – Mrs Chrisparkle and I constituted the full audience! Yes, only two people in but the cast threw themselves into a great performance of a brilliant play, with very serious, challenging material, and a fabulous twist. A good old fashioned thriller, based on sexual violence. Read the trigger warnings first. We talked about it for ages afterwards! Riveting!

No Place Like HomeNo Place Like Home – Gripping tale, spellbindingly told, with superb use of video graphics that truly helped the story along. Marvellous acting – great characterisations. A feast of creativity, I’m so glad we didn’t miss this!

 

COMEDY:

ColossalColossal (Patrick McPherson) – I predict another massive word of mouth success for Patrick’s latest creation. Incredibly beautiful writing reminds you of the hip hop rhythms of Hamilton, whilst telling his own very individual story of love and deception. So many brilliant callbacks, so many surprises. Patrick turns his likeable persona inside out and challenges the audience to stick with him. And we sure do. Technically brilliant too with a terrific sound and lighting plot, which also play their part. A complete winner.

Ben Clover Best NewcomerBen Clover: Best Newcomer – The evening ended with a great show from Ben Clover, who included anti-vaxxers, Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson in his material and it all landed perfectly. The show contained an early contender for best line of the Fringe; I won’t spoil it for you but we were still chuckling about it back at the apartment. He delivers his routine with apparently effortless ease, although I’m sure most of it scrupulously hand-crafted. A fantastic show, highly recommended.

Mark ThomasMark Thomas: Black and White – Why have I never seen Mr Thomas before? Most definitely a no-Conservative zone, he dishes out brilliant political observations nineteen to the dozen and absolutely left me wanting more. He also has some memorable Barry Cryer and Bernard Cribbins jokes, God bless their souls. I had no idea I’d be singing my favourite music hall song, The boy I love is up in the gallery, by Marie Lloyd. Just a fab hour.

Hal CruttendenHal Cruttenden: It’s Best You Hear it From Me – Crammed with callbacks, this is a beautifully constructed, very personal and very impressive show, with great audience interaction; probably the best I’ve ever seen Mr Cruttenden. Perhaps he should have more marriage breakdowns, it would be great for his career!

Mary BourkeMary Bourke: The Brutal Truth – On terrific form, the legendary Ms B talks cancel culture, Britain’s Got Talent as well as giving us a massive trauma dump (her words) that she turns to comedy gold. Peppa Pig also comes in for the treatment she so richly deserves. Absolutely brilliant.

AbigoliahAbigoliah Schamaun: Legally Cheeky – Abigoliah shares the ghastly story of her visa crisis with all her trademark upbeat optimism even though at times it’s a truly sad story. She has an amazing ability to see sunshine in the rain and she conveys her joyous observations with delightful ease. Fantastic!

Tarot Cautionary TalesTarot: Cautionary Tales – What a find! Sketch comedy is alive and well and living Beside the Pleasance Courtyard! Tarot are three immensely likeable idiots who have put together just the funniest hour of nonsense. Every night they pick a member of the audience to count the number of laughs (and make other suitable notes) and, you guessed it, it was me. I counted 217 laughs but I definitely missed a few – well, you have to keep these people on their toes after all. Favourite sketches included the Elvis Impersonator and the Never Have I Ever game. Ecstatically funny!

Your Dad's MumYour Dad’s Mum – Your Dad’s Mum is a nightmarish comic creation; a social night out, with a grim compère stuck in the 70s and a woeful but feminist assistant who together take us through some deliciously lamentable games and quizzes. And it’s all absolutely brilliant! Once you get the joke – that he’s deliberately awful and she’s trying to do the best she can to make up for it – it works a treat. As the catastrophes pile up, the audience creases up! The audience hurled themselves into the fun and played along with everything that Pat and Cherrie-Ann threw at them. Just don’t ask her to do her Christmas Tree routine. Loved it!

Marcus BrigstockeMarcus Brigstocke:  Absolute Shower – Another show where the subject of stupid people comes up! Marcus Brigstocke is on brilliant form, an hour full of political satire and happy lockdown memories. I particularly loved his observation about consent issues for single people today. Extremely funny, always a pleasure.

Nina GilliganNina Gilligan: Late Developer – Nina specialises in finding fantastic new material on familiar subjects, like the Menopause, sex, relationships and so on. She has a fantastic delivery style, leading you in gently and then hitting you with a killer punchline. An excellent discovery! Loved the pigeon and Chris Whitty material – I’ll say no more.

Garry StarrGarry Starr: Greece Lightning – I sometimes wonder how funny Garry Starr could be if he wasn’t quite so inhibited. That’s a joke, by the way – there is no one on stage who leaps over all the boundaries as much as Garry Elizabeth Starr. Once again the hammy thespian brings us a no-holds barred hour of unmitigated silliness which has to be seen to be believed. Don’t think that by avoiding the front row you won’t get involved (although if you do sit in the front row you might well see much more than you had bargained for!) Utter brilliance.

Troy HawkeTroy Hawke: Sigmund Troy’d – Effortless characterisation, the mischievous Milo McCabe has formed a brilliant, creative set of material for Troy based on a random tweet that caught his imagination. With scrabble values, psychotherapy, magic numbers, shop greetings and pizza dedications, this is an extraordinarily detailed flight of fantasy. I know that by sitting in the front we were asking for it – and we got it. But so did many others! Fabulously funny!

ShamiltonShamilton – How would this troupe create a hiphop musical about a character chosen by the audience? Brilliant performance and improv with the inspired audience choice of Paddington Bear!! Absolutely hilarious. The Browns needed sexual counselling, and The Queen was called on to prevent Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman from demolishing their house. Completely nuts and completely wonderful!

Phil HammondDr Hammond’s Covid Inquiry – Dr Phil presents an excellent comedy lecture, packed with fascinating facts and opinions, jokes and observations – it’s almost as though Covid has never gone away (winking emoji). It’s also interesting to share your own covid experiences and beliefs with other audience members. Very enjoyable!

Joe WellsJoe Wells: I Am Autistic – Always one of our favourite comedians, Joe is on fantastic form with a show that gives rise to pretty much non stop laughter, mainly about autism – and yes I know it sounds unlikely. He’s a truly gifted comedian, with a beautifully crafted set, and there’s no better way to start your Fringe day!

PearPear (Patrick and Hugo McPherson) – “Are there twins in the audience, oh oh, oh oh, are there any twins in?” 🎵 🎵 I guarantee you’ll be singing that for ages.

Patrick and Hugo do an amazing double act, with a nicely structured, incredibly silly, beautifully funny show, with perfect callbacks and audience interaction. You don’t stop beaming from start to finish! Is there nothing these McPhersons can’t do?!

Robin MorganRobin Morgan: Snip Snip Bitch (WIP) – Robin is even slicker and funnier now than he was when we saw him in Leicester a couple of years ago! There’s no real narrative thread to his act, it’s just observations and memories and quirkinesses, all of which somehow combine together to create a very satisfying whole. He’s so very likeable and persuasive; you end up letting your guard down and telling him things you’d normally keep under your hat. Absolutely brilliant!

Foil Arms and HogFoil Arms and Hog:  Hogwash – At first we wondered if Foil Arms and Hog had reached their pinnacle, and were beginning to lose their way a little. A very long get-to-know the audience introduction (vital for later material) followed by a too-long sketch based on a ghost story experience, meant that half the show had already gone before we started getting into the really good material, but rest assured it’s as good as ever. I loved the suitcases on the carousel, and the long lost reunions were inspired. Three genuinely hilarious guys – you don’t get better sketch comedy.

Nish KumarNish Kumar: Your Power, Your Control – Nish Kumar comes across as a naturally funny guy but also an angry one; years of racism have taken its toll on his mental health, and he shares some of that journey with us – and you get the feeling that the journey is far from over. But it’s not all doom and gloom – in fact it’s 98% hilarious observations about politics, terrible gigs and how much he loves Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Carr*. An occasionally bruising (and aggressive!) watch, but always rewarding.  *not strictly true.

Sooz KempnerSooz Kempner: Playstation – Very funny – I thought we might be at a disadvantage knowing nothing about computer games, but Sooz used them as a springboard for lots of other brilliant material, all based on that natural unwillingness to grow up. Extremely funny and inventive, and excellent use of pre-recorded material. Our first time seeing Sooz Kempner, but definitely not our last.

Anna MannColin Hoult: The Death of Anna Mann – Perhaps this really is the death of Anna Mann? Whatever Colin Hoult gives her an amazing send-off in this brilliant retrospective of her lives, loves and careers. Turned out very emotional in the end! One of the best comedy shows ever.

SpankSpank! You and Goodnight – The last ever Spank! was the source of a lot of genuine emotion. We’ve loved this show over the past 8 years and it’s brought so much happiness to so many people. A wonderful last night final line up; brilliant acts who all made the night very special.

Just these PleaseJust These Please: Honestly No Pressure Either Way – Fast, slick and very very funny! Lovely silly sketches – I loved the one that featured Greyfriars Bobby – all performed to a high standard. What’s not to like?

 

DANCE:

HamletHamlet: Ian McKellen and the Edinburgh Festival Ballet – Ignore those 2* reviews. They clearly don’t understand the concept of Ballet. This is a stunning piece, superb choreography, meticulously danced, that tells the story of Hamlet clearly and thoroughly. The Prince of Denmark is split into two: one, the vocal nervous wreck played by McKellen, the other, the man who moves, played by an extraordinary dancer. I particularly loved Ophelia’s dances, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a delight. Fabulous lighting and sound too. My toes curled with pleasure throughout!

Ballet FreedomBallet Freedom of Kyiv – Audience reviews online were about 75-25 in favour of this show, but those who didn’t like it *really* didn’t like it! We thought it was terrific; inventive, dynamic choreography, danced with joy and skill, frequently very tongue in cheek, lots of dark humour and even a few instances of audience participation (and don’t think by not sitting in the front you’re safe – you’re not!) Invasion by a hostile neighbour was tastefully suggested in a few of the dances. I was very disappointed at the amount of photography and videoing from audience members, which was extremely disrespectful of both the performers and other audience members. But we loved the show!

 

SPOKEN WORD:

Rory StewartIain Dale: All Talk with Rory Stewart – Both Iain Dale and Rory Stewart were both on good form. Amongst the revelations was the fact that they both went for the Conservative nomination to stand for the constituency of Bracknell. Rory told some awful stories about Johnson that were ostensibly funny but just showed what an utter disgrace the PM is. Good questions, fascinating answers, and a surprisingly entertaining hour.

Keir StarmerIain Dale: All Talk with Keir Starmer – Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith both grilled Keir Starmer and I must say I was very impressed with the Labour Leader, much more than I expected to be. You can see he’s a thoughtful, intelligent man, he listens in full to the question then gives a most considered answer to it. I don’t think he suits the world of quick off the cuff comments; he’s much more the measured, detailed, considered kind of politician.

Devi SridharIn Conversation with… Devi Sridhar – Not entirely sure what I was expecting from Devi Sridhar, but this conversation with sports journalist Graham Spiers revealed her motivations for becoming a public health expert, her background, her opinions on a wide range of subjects and also much of the private person behind the headlines. She’s a natural at the Q&A, and it was a fascinating hour.

 

EVERYTHING ELSE:

RougeRouge – Sets the bar for all the shows in this genre. Stunning to watch, decadent in the extreme, incredible acrobatics and a silly, adult sense of humour. No more to say!

Adults Only Magic ShowAdults Only Magic Show – Sam and Justin have put together some amazing magic and framed it within this “adult only” naughty presentation, to the delight of everyone. Very funny, very naughty and very incredible! Not a clue as to how any of it was done.

Evening without Kate BushAn Evening Without Kate Bush – I didn’t really know what to expect from this show, but you come away from it with a spring in your step and gladness in your heart, as Sarah-Louise Young beguiles you into the world of Kate Bush fandom, presents some of her best loved songs in ways you have never seen before, and makes you desperate to go back to your old LPs before the night is out. She also does a pretty amazing vocal impersonation! Very inclusive and hugely enjoyable.

 

So, an amazing Fringe – we loved every minute. And who will receive the coveted Chrisparkle Edinburgh awards? We’ll have to wait until the committee sits and deliberates next January!

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 25, 29th August 2022

And we come to the last day of the Fringe! What have got left in store to see today?

Here’s the schedule for 29th August:

12.45 – Press, Pleasance Courtyard. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Press“It’s the big day. The announcement is in a few hours’ time, and two film producers anticipate their prestigious Civil War epic Catch Me Some Freedom will be nominated for plenty of Goldies. Until they learn that the film’s heroic lead role, played by a white actor, was in real life actually Black. Fearing a career-jeopardizing backlash, the two frantically try to keep the film from getting any attention whatsoever. Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller’s play returns after its 2021 premiere, described as ‘genius’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com) with ‘a wonderful set-up’ that ‘delivers in every manner’ ***** (TheVioletCurtain.com).”

If this is as good as they say, it’s going to be brilliant!

UPDATE: The basis of a really good play but the writing and plot don’t quite realise its full potential. Very good performances though, and lots to enjoy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

14.55 – No Place Like Home, Pleasance Dome.

No Place Like Home“Winner of Les Enfants Terribles Award 2022. On a night out in a gay bar, Connor meets Rob. One’s a newcomer, the other has been on the scene far too long. But when a kiss leads to a brutal attack – who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator? Fusing spoken word, music, dance and video art, No Place Like Home is a tragic odyssey into gay club culture and the places we can call home. Get ready to laugh, cry and dance with somebody who loves you.”

Sounds like a hard-hitting play for the final day – hope it’s as good as it sounds!

UPDATE: Gripping tale, spellbindingly told, with superb use of video graphics that truly helped the story along. Marvellous acting – great characterisations. A feast of creativity, I’m so glad we didn’t miss this! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

17.20 – The Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show 2022: Are We There Yet? Pleasance Dome.

Cambridge Footlights“All aboard The Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show 2022: Are We There Yet? Buckle up as we hit the road for a tour of life itself, visiting more sketch-shaped destinations than a travel agent could dream of. Join five curious tourists for a holiday filled with laughs, quirky characters and sand in uncomfortable places. ‘The most renowned sketch troupe of them all’ (Independent) embark on their annual international tour with a brand-new show, travelling to London, Edinburgh, Los Angeles, New York and more! You’d be silly to miss it.”

In all our years of seeing student comedy, I don’t think we’ve ever seen the Cambridge Footlights – the group with the biggest reputation of all! Time to put that right!

UPDATE: Given that reputation, this was a bit of a disappointment. Obviously a talented troupe, but it’s a shame their material wasn’t funnier. A few good sketches but too many that weren’t. ⭐️⭐️

19.00 – Just These Please: Honestly No Pressure Either Way, Gilded Balloon Teviot.

Just These Please“With three five star sell-out Edinburgh Fringe runs, over 60 million views online and a tendency to list things in threes, Just These Please are back with 25 brand new sketches and songs where ‘the gags are packed tight and as always the performance is faultless’ (Chortle.co.uk). If you’re looking for a ‘tight hilarious hour of sketch comedy’ (BeyondTheJoke.co.uk) with ‘solid laughs throughout’ (Scotsman) and ‘countless highlights’ (ThreeWeeks) then you should absolutely get tickets before they sell out – but honestly no pressure either way. ***** (ThreeWeeks). ***** (TheArtsDesk.com). ***** (VoiceMag.uk).”

More comedy sketches – let’s hope they do a great job.

UPDATE: Fast, slick and very very funny! Lovely silly sketches – I loved the one that featured Greyfriars Bobby – all performed to a high standard. What’s not to like? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 24, 28th August 2022

A big day of comedy ahead in Edinburgh!

Here’s the schedule for 28th August:

12.05 – Possibly the Last Chance to See Susan Morrison, The Stand’s New Town Theatre. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Susan Morrison“Susan Morrison is at an age and stage to get some funny stuff off her chest. Mid-life crisis? Nah. This definitely isn’t the middle of her life, but she’s still having a laugh. She survived the Cold War, shoulder pads and the Osmonds, but time marches on and it turns out the end might be sooner than expected, although she’s determined to breathe long enough to get her bloody pension. It’s been a funny old life and there’s a few things she’s learned along the way she’d like to pass on.”

This possibly will be the VERY last chance to see Susan Morrison as her show finishes today! It would be a shame not to see her before she gives up!

UPDATE: A show both funny and informative, as Susan takes us through some of us Edinburgh’s murkier history, early instances of swear words, and centuries-old sex clubs, before bringing the topics round to her own health and cancer diagnoses – but it’s never heavy, always light and funny. A very enjoyable Comedy hour! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14.55 – Ada Campe: Too Little, Too Soon, The Stand’s New Town Theatre.

Ada Campe“Variety artiste Ada Campe decided to do some research into her family history during lockdown – and was delighted and intrigued by what she found! Join her for a show about wonderful women, surprising secrets and amphibian water ballets. ‘Very funny’ (Guardian). ‘Fabulous’ (ScotsGay.co.uk). ‘Genius’ (Sandi Toksvig). ‘Extravagantly mischievous’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘A marvellous teller of tall tales’ (Scotsman). ‘Resembles an unhinged supervillain’ (DIVA). Winner: 2019 Good Egg Award, Stand Comedy Club. Winner: 2018 Hackney Empire New Act of the Year Show (NATYS). Winner: 2018 Leicester Square Theatre Old Comedian of the Year. www.adacampe.com

We’ve never seen Ada Campe before but she looks like she’s a right laugh – so hopefully this will be fun.

UPDATE: Mad as a box of frogs, and I think she’d accept that description wholeheartedly. To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of content; but what Ada does, she does very well. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

16.45 – Wanderlust Assembly George Square Gardens.

Wanderlust“Hosted by an over-the-top and flirtatious host, this show delivers a dazzling array of exciting and naughty dance cabaret entertainment with frolicsome performers indulging in mesmerizing song and dance, acro, contortion, fire, pole and aerial acts, plus shameless comedic sketches, fostering oodles of audience interaction with hilarious and cheeky moments. It’s mischievous, it’s naughty and utterly wild! With a killer soundtrack and loaded with comicality, wickedness, killer vocals, hypnotic acts, dashes of nudity, exhilarating dance and so much more… this cheeky dance cabaret will leave you breathless and howling with laughter!”

More comedy and variety to while away a Sunday afternoon!

UPDATE: The last week of this show was completely cancelled, so we had drinks with friends instead!

18.30 – Sindhu Vee: Alphabet, Pleasance Courtyard.

Sindhu Vee“A show about the hair we want, the friends we have and living the vast difference between virus and viral. Expect ‘outspoken, frank and funny stand-up’ (Evening Standard) from this Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer nominee. As seen and heard on Live at the Apollo, QI, Have I Got News for You, Sandhog (Comedy Special) on Amazon Prime Video, Would I Lie To You?, Sex Education, BBC Radio 4’s Things My Mother Never Told Me (…About Lockdown) and The Guilty Feminist podcast. ‘Superior comedy… exceptionally funny’ **** (List).”

We’ve seen Sindhu Vee a couple of times and I love her acerbic style and great material. This should be excellent!

UPDATE: Sindhu Vee also cancelled the final performance of her show, so instead we went to see Basil Brush Unleashed and Uncut. Basil and Mr Martin were on terrific form, with a really funny show, with a great End of term feeling. There was also a very charming and moving tribute to the late Mr Derek. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.10 – Colin Hoult: The Death of Anna Mann, Pleasance Courtyard.

Anna Mann“Anna Mann is back! The acclaimed actress, singer and welder (gotta have a back up) returns after five long years to tell the incredible story of her life in the arts in this, her final hour. Visceral, real and achingly brave, Colin Hoult (After Life, Netflix) presents a hilarious meditation on life, death and literally everything in between. You will leave screaming ‘f*** off I love it!’ ‘Funnier than almost all other shows at this year’s Fringe’ **** (Telegraph). ‘Deliciously funny’ **** (Times). **** (Scotsman). **** (Time Out).”

I only discovered Anna Mann for the first time last year and she’s an absolute scream, so I can’t believe Colin Hoult is going to kill her off! Let’s hope it’s just a title, and not the truth.

UPDATE: Perhaps this really is the death of Anna Mann? Whatever Colin Hoult gives her an amazing send-off in this brilliant retrospective of her lives, loves and careers. Turned out very emotional in the end! One of the best comedy shows ever. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

23.00 – Spank! You and Goodnight, Underbelly, Bristo Square.

Spank“Join the ‘best wild night out at the Fringe’ (Scotland on Sunday), Spank!, as they celebrate 20 years at The Fringe, and bow out disgracefully with this show-stopping one-night-only finale which promises to be a night to remember! With their favourite comedy and variety performers from over the years, keep an eye on @SpankComedy (Twitter) for the line-up. ‘Comedy and legendary party night… if you haven’t experienced this night, get down there right away!’ (Time Out). ‘It’s raunchy, raucous and ridiculous. Utterly and absolutely hilarious’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).”

So it was a no-brainer that we would have to book for the very last Spank of all, hopefully presented by arch-Spanker James Loveridge. I’m really sad that the era is ending, but this should be a great night.

UPDATE: The last ever Spank! was also the source of a lot of genuine emotion. We’ve loved this show over the past 8 years and it’s brought so much happiness to so many people. A wonderful last night final line up; brilliant acts who all made the night very special. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 23, 27th August 2022

Would you like to know what we’re seeing in Edinburgh today? I thought you would!

Here’s the schedule for 27th August:

12.35 – Practically Perfect! Julie Andrews from Broadway to Hollywood, Greenside @ Infirmary Street. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Practically Perfect“Practically Perfect! takes a light-hearted and affectionate look at the many aspects of Julie Andrews’ career and personal life, exploring the contrast between the public face of this legendary musical and movie star and the intensely private family woman. Filled with comedy, drama, and some of the best-known songs from Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and many more of her musical and film successes, the play pays tribute to her phenomenal career up until 1997 when, tragically, a controversial surgical procedure deprived her of her four-octave voice.”

Who doesn’t love a bit of Julie Andrews?! Hoping for good things from this one.

UPDATE: Julie Andrews’ life and career make for a super story but this is a curiously underpowered production. Considering we have seen so many shows this fringe that have been loudly over amplified, the singing and some of the dialogue in this show was much too quiet. And there was a strange directorial decision to have the actor playing Young Julie almost constantly on the stage with nothing to do except look bored. However, it was great to be reminded of many of Julie Andrews’ greatest entertainment moments – and I certainly wasn’t expecting to see her performance of The Physician as in the film “Star”. And I was very impressed by the attention to detail in the costumes. But this should have been much more captivating than it was. ⭐️⭐️

15.10 – Closure, Pleasance Courtyard.

Closure“Why be the bigger person when you can be the last one standing? Ink and Curtains make their Edinburgh debut hot on the heels of their first national tour with this tale of a dinner party with a dark secret. Alex and Laura quickly learn that their friend Mia may not let them all leave alive. Closure wields dark comedy and vicious catharsis to explore feminine rage, women’s rights and – more importantly – women’s wrongs.”

A dinner party gone wrong? What’s not to like! This sounds intriguing and fun.

UPDATE: Mrs Chrisparkle and I constituted the full audience! Yes, only two people in but the cast threw themselves into a great performance of a brilliant play, with very serious, challenging material, and a fabulous twist. A good old fashioned thriller, based on sexual violence. Read the trigger warnings first. We talked about it for ages afterwards! Riveting! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

18.20 – Patrick Spicer: Who’s This All of a Sudden? Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose.

Patrick Spicer“Debut hour from one of the most exciting acts on the UK comedy circuit and one of the most pathetic cringing worms (as seen on The Mash Report (BBC2), BBC3 and Channel 4 Online.) Patrick will be recounting his deepest fears and humiliations in a funny and credible way (nominated for both Chortle Best Newcomer and Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year). So if you’ve ever felt like there’s something wrong with you, come and laugh with Patrick. If not, come and laugh at Patrick.”

I’ve enjoyed the few occasions we’ve seen Patrick Spicer on TV, so here’s hoping this live show will pay dividends too.

UPDATE: Patrick has a very likeable persona and some excellent material based on his physical and mental anxieties, a lot of which many of the audience can identify and empathise with, so although he invites us to laugh at him, we laugh with him, which makes for a very convivial experience! Mind you, I think he might be a little jaded with his Fringe experience. Hang on in there,  young sir, only two shows to go! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

20.30 – Fin Taylor: Daddy Self-Care, Pleasance Dome.

Fin Taylor“Edinburgh’s favourite Guardian-approved naughty boy is back! And he’s bringing with him a brand-new hour of painfully funny stand-up for 2022. Since his last visit to the Fringe, he’s got married, had a kid and watched on with bemusement as comedy evolves into a platform for Generation Z to earnestly discuss their self-diagnosed mental health conditions. So plenty to work with. As seen on Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News For You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, The Mash Report and more. ‘Gleefully provocative, explosively funny’ **** (Guardian).”

One of the best comics around – I know this is going to be a winner!

UPDATE: There’s no doubt about it – Fin’s humour has become darker and more divisive since we last saw him. At his best, he’s hysterically funny. At his worst, you detect the rancour in his material and it simply leaves you cold, so you sit silently. A few people left during the show; that’s their prerogative, but Fin makes an issue out of it that isn’t really helpful. A tricky hour; those who loved it, really loved it. I could have done without the Ukrainian joke and the mental health observations, but that’s just me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

22.00 – Karen from Finance is Out of Office, Underbelly Bristo Square.

Karen from Finance“Pack your calculators, save your spread sheets and set your automatic email reply because Karen from Finance is heading Out of Office! She’s hitting the road and she’s hitting it hard. Say goodbye to the 80 hour work week and jump on board the Finance Express for this one-woman journey of self-discovery… and self-annihilation. Beloved Australian drag queen Karen from Finance presents her debut one woman show Out of Office which features all of her trademark high-camp and hilarious mashups, plus all the tomfoolery you can poke a presentation pointer at.”

We saw Karen from Finance as part of the Yummy! troupe at the Fringe in 2018 – the show was ok, but I’m hoping that Karen’s own show will be better – let’s see!

UPDATE: Karen’s show is very slick and sassy, with a lot of funny moments and some great lip-synching. Not quite sure what I was expecting, but I think I was expecting something a little more. However, Karen’s clients were whooping it up something mega, so she was obviously doing something right! Perhaps I’m just getting too old for some of this stuff! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 22, 26th August 2022

A good mix of comedy and theatre arranged for Edinburgh today!

Here’s the schedule for 26th August:

Word of mouth is the most important thing at the Fringe, and friends told us we must see Wilf at the Traverse Theatre. So we’re fitted it in this morning!

UPDATE: That rare thing – a comedy that is extraordinarily creative in its subject matter, confronts headfirst disturbing issues like domestic abuse and mental illness, and is also jaw-achingly funny. Beautifully staged and performed by Michael Dylan, Irene Allan and Neil John Gibson, there’s no way this play won’t have a life beyond the Fringe. Absolutely magnificent! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

14.20 – Sooz Kempner: PlayStation, PBH’s Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Sooz Kempner“Twitter sensation Sooz (BBC Radio 4, BT Sport, BBC Radio 5 Live) got a PlayStation, the first adult console, in 1998 and finally felt grown-up. But is she? A stand-up show for anyone who remembers the 90s and had big dreams as a kid. Suitable for gamers and non-gamers alike! ‘A new wave of comedy’ (Guardian). ‘Incredible… it shouldn’t work but it really, really does’ (Independent). ‘Brilliant’ (LA Times). Comedy Central Top Shows of the Fringe 2018. **** (Fest). **** (Broadway World). **** (Chortle.co.uk). **** (EdinburghReporter.co.uk). **** (Stage).”

Never seen Sooz Kempner before but have heard great things, so we’re looking forward to this one.

UPDATE: Very funny – I thought we might be at a disadvantage knowing nothing about computer games, but Sooz used them as a springboard for lots of other brilliant material, all based on that natural unwillingness to grow up. Extremely funny and inventive, and excellent use of pre-recorded material. Our first time seeing Sooz Kempner, but definitely not our last. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

16.10 – Antiques, Greenside @ Nicolson Square.

Antiques“The Griffen Collective present Antiques by Ted Smethurst. Worn out by the city, young couple Sam and Lucy move to the countryside, searching for a peaceful rural lifestyle. They arrive in the village of Little Dickingsworth: picture perfect and untouched by modern life. The villagers like it that way and don’t take kindly to change. Perhaps Little Dickingsworth is not as charming as it appears and your new neighbours don’t play nice with strangers.”

This sounds rather League of Gentlemen-ish, which isn’t really our cup of tea, but we’re giving it a risky punt.

UPDATE: Should have followed my natural caution on this one. An attempt to recreate a League of Gentleman-type nightmare village with a range of weirdo inhabitants. Not sure if it had any further point than that – and it proves just how hard it is to be The League of Gentlemen. Mrs C slept blissfully through most of it. The sad thing is that you can see a lot of effort went into this; but it really was not good. ⭐️

17.50 – Pillows, The Space on North Bridge.

Pillows“On a normal bed, in a normal bedroom, two normal university students try to figure out their place in the world – and their place in each other’s lives. They’ve known each other since they were 15. They’re pretty sure of that. But they’re on the brink of adulthood now – life changes and there’s so much that should have been said long ago. A single conversation that drifts between love, sex, Bowie, break-ups and Adam Sandler, Pillows is a new one-act play that wanders through the murky depths of teenage love without leaving one boy’s bedroom.”

Hoping for some entertaining and thought-provoking drama here, let’s hope I’m right.

UPDATE: Amazing flowing conversational acting, an intimate meeting of two people who can’t live together and can’t live apart. Superb performances from Eve Billington and Aaron Garland – fantastic young actors in the making! If I have a criticism, it would be that the play itself is a little repetitive, and it ends where it begins; I’m not sure if the characters make any real progress. But what an acting feat! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

19.50 – There’s No Mystery in Murder! The Space on the Mile.

There's no Mystery in Murder“Murder has come to Rothersdale, where nothing ever happens. A local councillor is found dead after his plan to build a big supermarket creates unrest. A jaded city detective with an unblemished record for solving crime and an enthusiastic local cop desperate to prove herself must unwillingly team up to crack the case. Will they stop the murderer before they strike again? Northern Corner’s four-person cast bring an entire village of unhinged locals to life in this countryside crime caper, a new Yorkshire musical!”

Another comedy murder show – this time a musical, which should make it stand out!

UPDATE: Entertaining and nicely written compact little musical where our gallant Policewoman solves three murders in a sleepy Yorkshire town. The songs are surprisingly good! It’s a shame that one member of the cast wasn’t quite a vocally perfect as the others; but it was good fun – and I’m still humming one of the tunes to myself! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 21, 25th August 2022

Lots of comedy arranged for Edinburgh today!

Here’s the schedule for 25th August:

12.00 – Joanna Neary: Wasp In A Cardigan, The Stand Comedy Club 2. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Joanna Neary“One-time Riot grrrl, witch, illustrator Joanna and her volatile alter egos explore life and love. Punchlines include fry-up, arsehole and Xmal Deutschland. ‘One of the most naturally funny stand-ups around’ (Stage). ‘Inherently funny’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Most striking is the contrast between the big-grinned, scatty sweetness she has when she’s being herself, and the surgical precision with which she skewers her characters’ foibles’ (Independent). Edinburgh Award Newcomer nominee. Best Actress, Brighton Fringe. Best Show nominee at Leicester Comedy Festival. Judith in BBC’s Ideal. Featured in Time Trumpet, Man Down, Wife On Earth Podcast. joneary.com”

Joanna Neary is a name new to us but I’ve heard good things, so fingers crossed this will be fun.

UPDATE: Quite a curious show. Nice, but niche, characterisations – including Celia Johnson, whom I saw in the west end 50 years ago but the vast percentage of modern comedy-watchers wouldn’t know from Adam. If you don’t know southern Cornish references, or don’t get the finer aspects of a Merthyr Tydfil accent, you’re left to admire, if not actually enjoy, much of the show. Great Kate Bush imitation – again, 40 years on; and some nice material but a lot of it doesn’t quite work and there was an embarrassing moment when she accused an audience member of being on their phone when in fact he was just holding hands with his girlfriend. This one didn’t quite do it for us. ⭐️⭐️

15.10 – Eh Up, Me Old Flowers! Pleasance Courtyard.

Charlie Williams“In the 1970s, the biggest comedy show on television was ITV’s The Comedians. It made Charlie Williams the first black comic to become a household name. Perhaps his material would nowadays be considered questionable. But perhaps if you’d lived his extraordinary life in a white man’s world – coal miner, professional footballer, cabaret singer, comedian – you’d have done the same. Now in retirement, Charlie faces an uncomfortable visit from a mysterious stranger who demands that he justify himself… By Chris England (An Evening with Gary Lineker) and starring Tony Marshall (Casualty, Life on Mars).”

I’m expecting this to be great. I remember Charlie Williams very fondly, always used to love his TV appearances – and actually saw him at the Palladium once. This will be a mixture of nostalgia and a bit of a challenge.

UPDATE: An excellent portrayal of Charlie Williams, by Tony Marshall; and the play itself is full of great storytelling, and ultimately is remarkably moving. You don’t have to remember Charlie Williams from the 70s, but it helps if you do! The play posed fascinating questions about whether Williams was complicit in spreading racism, or did he pave the way for the likes of Lenny Henry or Gary Wilmot? I was really surprised to find I had a tear in my eye at the end. Way better than you might possibly expect!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

18.10 – Emmanuel Sonubi: Emancipated, Underbelly Bristo Square.

Emmanuel Sonubi“Sonubi has only been on the comedy circuit for what feels like five minutes and he’s already garnering himself a reputation as the one to watch out for, having gone from open spot to closing BBC’s Live at the Apollo in an incredibly short space of time. He has also performed at many of the largest clubs and festivals across Europe. He made his TV debut on Comedy Central UK and was recently on The John Bishop Show for ITV1 and the Stand Up Sketch Show on ITV2. ‘The bloke has got funny bones’ (Romesh Ranganathan).”

We saw Emmanuel Sonubi at a Spank show a few years ago – I described him as intimidatingly funny. Let’s hope he’s got a great show for us this year!

UPDATE: Big-hearted Emmanuel gets great material out of the difference between his imposing appearance and his true personality – he’s a bit of a softie really! A very funny hour packed with thoroughly entertaining stuff about kids, his heart issues, and musical theatre! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.15 – Jesus L’Oreal: Nailed It! Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose.

Jesus L'Oreal“Halle-berry-lujah! Your sassy, dyslexic King of the shoes is heaven scent in a cloud of Febreze to tell you how he came to be the fabulous influencer that he is whilst setting the record straight about events of his life. Be it stories about being born in a barn surrounded by ass or simply tips to shift a stone doing Pontius Pilates, the ultimate lifestyle guru has a high-octane hour of song, dance and interactive Jehovah’s Fitness to help you flex those Pentecostal muscles all the way to the kingdom of Hosannadu. It’s sacre-licious!”

One of those delightfully tasteless shows that Edinburgh always throws up, I’m looking forward to sharing in the blasphemy for an hour or so!

UPDATE: Jesus L’Oreal fronts an hour of fitness, self-help and sermonising, whilst revelling in a very funny script jam-packed with song lyrics, for the fun of it. Plenty of audience participation, and he even turns water into wine. Nothing earth-shattering, but very good humoured; not for those of a serious religious persuasion though! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 20, 24th August 2022

A heavy day of drama in Edinburgh today!

Here’s the schedule for 24th August:

11.20 – Words Without Consent, Greenside @ Infirmary Street. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Words Without Consent“Following a tour across England, 2Gal are bringing their four-star political satire to Edinburgh Fringe. Words Without Consent tells two stories: an out of control debate, and two gals getting ready to go out (like, out-out.) Using both well-known political faux pas and those that have been swept under the rug, the play invites the audience to laugh at the ridiculous state of the current political landscape. But while a BoJo meme is well worth a share, should we be asking more from our leaders?”

A political start to the day – no idea what this will be like, but let’s hope it’s good.

UPDATE: Verbatim text of women in interviews combined with politicians’ comments on the role of women in society and the dangers faced daily from men. Extremely well staged, great use of video projections and two first rate performances. Take note of the trigger warnings; many of the things said in this production shake you to the core. A thrilling, appalling and vital work. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

13.25 – In Her Defence, The Space on North Bridge.

In Her Defence“London, 1947. A man is dead. His wife has killed him. As a court hears the evidence leading up to the murder, you’ll witness the disintegration of the couple’s marriage and discover the real, surprising truth.”

This sounds like a good old-fashioned court drama, and done well they can be unbeatable. So this could be great!

UPDATE: This Christie-style thriller has all the elements of a deceptively simple tale; extremely well written and pretty well told. It’s all taken at a leisurely to moderate pace, but that gives you time to try to solve the crime before the trial wraps up. You’re invited to spot all the Christie references in the plot – I got 4, but some of them are very loose! Good fun and engrossing. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

15.50 – Candy, Underbelly Bristo Square.

Candy“Do you believe in love at first sight? Will has fallen hopelessly in love with the seductive singer, Candy. The only problem: she’s his best mate in drag. As Will struggles to make sense of his newfound feelings, his life crumbles at the fringes. Should he seize life by his bollocks and tell Candy how he feels? Can he ever be with her? And what does loving her really mean? The sell-out London comedy-drama returns to the Fringe after a special online performance last year. ‘A raw exploration of love and identity’ ***** (Indiependent.co.uk). ‘Truly captivating’ **** (TheatreScotland.com).”

A funny twist on an old tale – this could be excellent. Here’s hoping.

UPDATE: Brilliant storytelling, both in Tim Fraser’s riveting play and Michael Waller’s spellbinding performance. At first, I thought the content of the play was going to position itself as some kind of analogy or symbol. But then I quickly decided it wasn’t that, it was just a straightforward story about a man falling in love with his mate, but only when Billy presents himself as Candy. Fascinating, thought-provoking, at times hilarious, at times deeply sad. We absolutely loved it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

17.55 – An Evening Without Kate Bush, Assembly George Square Studios.

Evening without Kate Bush“Howl with the hounds and dance on the moors! Kate’s not there, but you are. Following its sold-out 2019 Fringe premiere, touring and a Soho Theatre season, this smash-hit, award-winning show returns! Sarah-Louise Young and Russell Lucas pay glorious homage to the music, fans and mythology of one of the most influential voices in music. ‘You don’t need to be a Kate Bush fan to be transported into something very special’ **** (Scotsman). ‘Reinventing the tribute act’ ***** (Stage). ‘Joyful’ **** (Daily Telegraph). ‘Magnificent’ ***** (Attitude).”

We had tickets for this at our local theatre and then Covid had other ideas. So I am delighted finally to be able to see this show, which I’ve heard is great.

UPDATE: I didn’t really know what to expect from this show, but you come away from it with a spring in your step and gladness in your heart, as Sarah-Louise Young beguiles you into the world of Kate Bush fandom, presents some of her best loved songs in ways you have never seen before, and makes you desperate to go back to your old LPs before the night is out. She also does a pretty amazing vocal impersonation! Very inclusive and hugely enjoyable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.00 – Nish Kumar: Your Power, Your Control, Assembly George Square.

Nish Kumar“It has been a period of upheaval and uncertainty with COVID and the political situation. You will be amazed by my capacity to somehow take all these things personally. Your Power, Your Control is a new show from the former host of Late Night Mash Report and one of The Guardian’s Top Top Fifty Comedians of the 21st Century. ‘Political zingers delivered with fizzing energy’ (Independent). ‘Kumar is the smartest, and often the silliest, political comic we’ve got: acute, furious and often the ridiculous fall guy of his own jokes’ ***** (Guardian).”

Another big comedy name that we’re finally going to be ticking off the list! It will be interesting to see if Nish Kumar is accomplished live as he is on TV.

UPDATE: Nish Kumar comes across as a naturally funny guy but also an angry one; years of racism have taken its toll on his mental health, and he shares some of that journey with us – and you get the feeling that the journey is far from over. But it’s not all doom and gloom – in fact it’s 98% hilarious observations about politics, terrible gigs and how much he loves Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Carr*. An occasionally bruising (and aggressive!) watch, but always rewarding.

*not strictly true. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 19, 23rd August 2022

Wanna know what’s scheduled for today in Edinburgh?

Here’s the schedule for 23rd August:

11.30 – Death of an Author, Greenside @ Nicolson Square. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

Death of an Author“What if your favourite characters didn’t quite like the way they were written? What if they decided enough was enough? When an unnamed author is found dead, his characters are brought in for questioning. And they all have motive. Death of an Author is a celebration of untold female stories and a murder mystery like nothing you’ve seen before… come solve the crime in Edinburgh! Will you catch the killer?”

This sounds like a fascinating play – I often think that it’s the characters who are in charge of a book. It will be interesting to see if this play agrees with me!

UPDATE: A very clever premise,  excellent performances, extremely well written, and surprisingly moving. Lots to think about – and truly intriguing for literature buffs! I shan’t reveal who murdered the author…. but no jury would convict! I also liked how the detective did a spot of mansplaining! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

13.40 – Man of 100 Faces, Gilded Balloon Teviot.

Man of 100 Faces“One performer. 100 characters. One hour. Impossible? Not for The Man of 100 Faces. This is the unbelievably true story of Sir Paul Dukes. A child runaway who, with just three weeks’ training, was made head of MI6 in Russia during the bloodiest year of the Revolution. He’s the man that nearly defeated Lenin. The man that first brought yoga to the UK. He’s a master of disguise, the original inspiration for Bond and the only British spy ever to be knighted. But can The Man of 100 Faces unmask who he really is?”

This could be brilliant – or it might be a bit iffy. Only one way to find out!

UPDATE: The story of Paul Dukes. Never heard of him before, and he sounds like one helluva guy. But it needs a larger venue for the loud and physical performance that Saul Boyer gives. In the middle of the front row, we felt  uncomfortable, were sprayed with sweat, and constantly bellowed at. I’m sure that three or four rows back it would have been much more enjoyable. Tremendous commitment from the performer, but our own personal experience was not one I could recommend. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

15.55 – Messiah, Underbelly Bristo Square.

Messiah“Jesus tells his disciples: ‘the Messiah will never come, so we have to create one’. An intense and darkly provocative retelling of the myths and realities surrounding the rise and fall of Christ. Fusing realism and surrealism, history and the present, poetry and vulgarity, we enter a beguiling picture of the last days of Jesus’ life and those that surround him. A cast of four play multiple characters, moving between ensemble, monologue and song. Includes nudity.”

This is another intriguing show – a blank canvas on which anything could be written. Let’s hope it’s good!

UPDATE: Very good, thought provoking play, as you would expect from the pen of Steven Berkoff. We particularly enjoyed the brainstorming session on how to make the resurrection really work!  Very good performances, lots of fourth walk breaking, well worth seeing – and deserves a larger audience. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

18.00 – Rosie Holt: The Woman’s Hour, Pleasance Courtyard.

Rosie Holt“Social media sensation and Chortle Award winner Rosie Holt debuts an hour of character comedy based on her hit satirical videos. A right-wing “opinionist” distorting the news, an MP desperately defending a failing government, a left-winger wanting to say the right thing but scared of getting it wrong. These characters and more come together when their creator accidentally becomes the news, as they try to speak their truth whatever the facts. ‘If she can stay in character long enough, she’ll have a Telegraph column and a seat on Question Time by teatime’ (James O’Brien).”

Can’t wait to see this. Rosie Holt’s tweets are a thing of genius. This is going to be amazing!

UPDATE: Will the real Rosie Holt stand up? Very good use of video, and virtually 100% new material, which I wasn’t expecting. I liked the confusion of who is Rosie and who isn’t, super interaction with the audience, and all in all an extremely funny hour. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.15 – Foil Arms and Hog – Hogwash, Underbelly Bristo Square.

Foil Arms and Hog“Ireland’s top sketch comedy group. With over 500 million online views the internet sensations return to McEwan Hall to premiere their new show, Hogwash. A mix of sketch comedy, audience participation and improvisation. Best reviewed show at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018 and 2019. Sold out 2009-2019. ‘Quite simply, a sensation’ (Edinburgh Festivals Magazine). ‘Very funny show’ (Rowan Atkinson). ‘Hilarious lads’ (Kevin Bridges). ‘An effervescent hour of fast-paced gags, fizzing with energy, invention and great lines’ (Chortle.co.uk). **** (Times). ***** (Irish Examiner). ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). ***** (Metro). ***** (EdFestMag.com).”

Foil, Arms and Hog are another of the terrific acts that bring us back to Edinburgh year after year. They’re always fantastic, and know they will be again.

UPDATE: At first we wondered if Foil Arms and Hog had reached their pinnacle, and were beginning to lose their way a little. A very long get-to-know the audience introduction (vital for later material) followed by a too-long sketch based on a ghost story experience, meant that half the show had already gone before we started getting into the really good material, but rest assured it’s as good as ever. I loved the suitcases on the carousel, and the long lost reunions were inspired. Three genuinely hilarious guys – you don’t get better sketch comedy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️