Our first show of the day is one of the best reasons to come to the Edinburgh Fringe – it’s Joe Wells Doesn’t Want to Do Political Comedy Anymore! at PBH’s Free Fringe @ Sneaky Pete’s, at 12:05 on Tuesday 20th. Here’s the blurb: “The news is too horrible to joke about, so Joe’s looking for a new shtick. Support for Frankie Boyle, Stephen K Amos and Alexei Sayle. Writer for BBC1’s Have I Got News for You. As seen on BBC3’s Quickies. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian’ (Guardian). ‘A genuine hidden treasure of the Fringe’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Recommended’ (Heat).”
We started catching Joe Wells at Edinburgh a few years ago as a word of mouth success, and, boy, was that word of mouth correct. If you like your comedy intelligent, incisive, and on the nose, he’s your man. Check back around 1.15 pm to see if he’s as great this year as in previous years (no pressure, Joe). By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Now it’s time for the show that we look forward to the whole year round. It’s the amazingly wonderful James Loveridge and the totally fantastic Evan Desmarais presenting Spank! at Belly Dancer @ Underbelly, Cowgate, at 23:55 on Monday 19th. Here’s the blurb: “Spank! returns for an incredible 16th year with hilarious hosts, awesome comedians and gratuitous nudity. Showcasing the most exciting comedy and cabaret on the Fringe, don’t miss the ‘best wild night out’ (Scotland on Sunday) at the festival! ‘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). ‘Everything you could hope for in a late-night comedy showcase… absolutely must-see show’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘Atmosphere is electric… you just don’t quite know what is going to happen next… superb’ ***** (One4Review.co.uk).”
This will be our first of three visits this week, and to say we’re excited is to say a very considerable underestimate of how we’re feeling. Check back around 3am (or maybe early on Tuesday morning) to see who were the guests, who got naked and how much fun we had. By then the first preview blog for Tuesday should be available to read too.
I can’t resist a Spank! An excellent night, with everyone on great form. James and Evan were the hosts with the most, introducing the always reliable The Establishment, the amazing James Phelan, the unique Lost Voice Guy, the sassy Sikisa, the hilarious Tony Cantwell, the smart Ginnia Cheng and the one and only Dulcé Sloan. Great audience input from young psychologist Dr Harrison and 20 year old student Toby who did the naked promo in aid of testicular cancer research. A brilliant night out!
Next up is one of those shows that could go anywhere, depending on the quality and pizzazz of its performers. It’s Spiegelworld’s Atomic Saloon Show at the Palais du Varieté, Assembly George Square Gardens, at 22:10 on Monday 19th. This is what the official blurb says: “The wildest watering hole in town. Madam Boozy Skunkton has been collecting the prettiest, sexiest, dumbest, drunkest troupe of entertainers and acrobats on earth, and is determined to create the greatest saloon show the world has ever known. Moulin Rouge meets Blazing Saddles, and America’s Got Talent meets Westworld. From the creators of the hit Las Vegas show Absinthe. Featuring some of the best names in variety and physical comedy, this world premiere is a must-see before it heads to its permanent home on the Las Vegas Strip. Directed by Cal McCrystal (One Man, Two Guvnors).”
The decider that convinced me to book for this one is that it’s directed by Cal McCrystal who always delivers a fun and creative production. Check back after it’s finished shortly before 11.45 pm to see if we enjoyed it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
That’s a winner! Sometimes these innuendo-based circus variety acts can miss the mark, but this one really doesn’t. Sharp, sexy, funny, and with some incredible acrobatic, dance and comedy burlesque acts, this is a sure shootin’ success!
Time for another serious, meaty play. It’s Boys of the Empire Productions’ The Good Scout at the Grand Theatre @ theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, at 20:20 on Monday 19th. This is what the blurb says: “Inspired by true events. In the 1930s, Baden-Powell and Von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s ambassador, decreed that British boy scouts and Hitler Youth should learn from one another. In Bassington, England, the local troop play host to a cycling party of Hitlerjugend – but are the German boys cyclists or “spyclists”? For Will and Jacob, two Rover Scouts on the cusp of manhood, it is a visit that will change their lives forever. As war looms, a heart-wrenching, darkly humorous drama about espionage, scout’s honour and forbidden love unfolds. From writer/director of Kids Play ***** (Bobby Award winner, BroadwayBaby.com).”
This could be a really stunning experience; searing, unsettling, challenging drama. Can’t wait! I think this is the longest production we’re seeing this year, at One hour Twenty minutes long. Check back around 10 pm to see what we thought of it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Another very cleverly written play that conceals its big twist right till the end. First rate performances throughout; and you sense it has something of a message for today as well. Highly recommended!
Here’s something that I’m really looking forward to because it sounds challenging but hilarious. It’s Wound Up Theatre’s production of Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy at Belly Button, Underbelly, Cowgate at 18:40 on Monday 19th. Let’s read the blurb: “Radicalisation, disenfranchisement and the rock band Queen. Dean joined the army, ‘Danny’ joined ISIS. One’s from London; the other, Leeds. Bismillah! is their hour together in an Iraqi cell. ‘A Black comedy of the highest order’ ***** (TheReviewsHub.com). Discussing Islamophobia, Wetherspoons and the increasing price of a standard meal deal, which circles an awful truth – they just want to go home. Fresh from a national tour, Pleasance run and sell-out 2018 VAULT Festival run, the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award-shortlisted show returns, with its hilarious and compassionate look at modern Britain.”
This could be very special and very exciting; I can’t wait to find out. Check back around 8pm to see what we thought. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Very powerful and cleverly written and with highly charged, spirited performances. Perhaps a little shouty, which occasionally made it hard to understand everything that was said. But it went down very well with the audience and we enjoyed it!
Next up is a triumph of marketing – I’ve booked this purely on the strength of its brilliant title. It’s Paper Mug Theatre’s I Lost My Virginity to Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor at Bunker Two @ Pleasance Courtyard, at 15:00 on Monday 19th. Read the blurb: “’I’m not going to gamble the happiness I have with you for a chance at happiness with someone else – what’s the point?’ Ollie and Laura have been together for three years, and are one pack of reduced M&S olives away from killing each other. But with an engagement ring hidden in an en-route takeaway, Ollie has the task of stopping Laura from walking out altogether. I Lost My Virginity to Chopin’s Nocturne in B-Flat Minor tackles the fear of loneliness and dependency to the point of destruction.”
I have a sense that this will be one of those plays whose hilarious title belies the sadness of its content. Check back around 4.15pm to see whether we’re laughing or crying. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
The clever backwards construction of this play brings its savagery to the forefront. Brilliantly acted, a script packed with memorable moments that make the audience gasp and cringe audibly throughout, and a superb examination of what happens when two totally incompatible people love each other. Superb and agonising! A must-see if you’re in Edinburgh!
After yesterday’s Shakespeare for Breakfast, the Bard again comes up for a little leg-pullling, with Yasplz LLC’s Noir Hamlet at the Upper Theatre @ theSpace @ Niddry St, at 13:15 on Monday 19th. Here’s the blurb: “Passion, jealousy, and murder never got so many laughs! John Minigan’s new and wild reimagining of the Shakespeare classic has more twists than a gallows necktie. Hamlet is a wise-cracking private eye, his pal Horatio is now a complicated gal Friday named Rae Chio and the rotten state of Denmark is transformed into the City of Angels circa 1949. Mix equal parts of the Bard, Bogart and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and shake vigorously. Boston Globe Critics’ Pick! Edge Media’s Best of Boston Theatre 2018!”
If this is done well, it could be great. If not… well let’s hope we don’t have to worry about that. Check back when it’s finished at around 2.30 pm to see what we thought of it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
Absolutely first class! Sharply written, brilliantly performed, and incredibly funny, with the most farcical adaptation of a multiple death ending! We really enjoyed it and can’t recommend it too strongly!
For our first show on Monday – and hoping we get up in time for it – this might be just the right way to start the day. It’s 3’s Comedy – Adam Knox, Luka Muller and Peter Jones at Hollywood @ Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, at 11:35 on Monday 19th. Here’s their blurb: “3’s Comedy brings together Adam Knox, Luka Muller and Peter Jones, three of the rising stars of Australian comedy for a whole new hour of hilarious stand-up. As seen on the TV, as heard on radio and as bumped into on public transport on the way to gigs all across the world. Knox, Muller and Jones are guaranteed to make you laugh.”
I don’t know any of these chaps so this is a bit of a punt but, who knows, there might be comedy gold mined here! Check back around 1pm to see how much we laughed. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
And first failure of the day… arrived with 20 minutes to spare but it was already full. Get here early for this one!
Instead, we’re going to see Bollywood and Birmingham to Berlin and Brexit, at Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, with Dharmander Singh. Here’s hoping for a good one!
Our last show for Sunday is our first toe-dip this Fringe into the world of burlesque and variety, and that’s Mister Meredith’s Magic Faraway Cabaret, at PBH’s Free Fringe @ Voodoo Rooms at 22:30 on Sunday 18th. Here’s the official blurb: “Always packed, this ‘fab lil’ cabaret party’ (Time Out) returns for its sixth year. Magic, variety, burlesque and sideshow acts are gift wrapped by Mister Meredith in a world of fun and games. This night really is like no other at the Fringe; the boundaries of innocence and worldliness collide, featuring top names and fresh new acts in The Voodoo Rooms’ unique buzzing speakeasy atmosphere. ‘An amazing compère’ (BurlesqueBibleMag.com). ‘A subversive compère who takes pride in getting the city boys a little hot under the collar’ (Telegraph). ‘One of the greatest cabaret performers of his generation’ (ScotsGay.co.uk).”
We’ve already met Mister Meredith yesterday for his Singalonga Pub Quiz night – so it will be interesting to see him in a different light tonight! Check back around midnight to find out what happened. By then the first preview blog for tomorrow should be available to read too.
No Burlesque in tonight’s line up but very enjoyable nonetheless. Irish comedian Gráinne Maguire did a brilliant set about being Irish in London and explains hilariously why the Ryanair experience is what it is; then we had the President of the United States (no really) as he is in Trump’s Fake TV show; the fantastic Viggo from Zach and Viggo fame who had us on stage including me lying down whilst others mourned my passing; belly dancer Shantisha, and ending up with magician Elliot Bibby. A wonderful line up in a comfortable, fun environment. Great way to end the evening!
First show of this year’s fringe that might be classed as dance – although it also comes under cabaret – For Only an Hour, at Dance Base, Studio 3, at 19:35 on Sunday 18th. Here’s the blurb: “‘Sanger is one of the most versatile artists on the British stage, as this performance amply demonstrates’ (Dance Europe, 2018). Danced to a hilarious medley of Angela Lansbury, Delia Smith and Bette Midler this one-man romp is a pseudo-glamorous jaunt through pop culture, queer art, childhood dreams and life-changing surgery. It may be entertaining, but it demands a punishing vulnerability of the performer with surprises at every turn. Supported by haunting music by Donna McKevitt, glittering queer garments by Andrew Walker, mentoring by Wendy Houstoun and a unique improvised lighting design by Jen Wren.”
The title, apparently, is taken from Jacques Brel’s Jackie – so that’s already got me even more intrigued. I’ve enjoyed Wendy Houstoun’s work with DV8 in the past so it will be interesting to see her influence on Mr Sanger. I’m expecting this to be pretty funny in parts, although no doubt mixed with lots of pathos. Check back when it’s finished shortly before 9pm to see what we thought of it. By then the next preview blog should be available to read too.
You can really see the influence of Houstoun’s work in this extremely entertaining, occasionally unsettling piece, performed with terrific aplomb and fluency by Phil Sanger, who, apart from anything else has a really beautiful voice; I loved his version of Jacky – Tacky – and his can-can is amazing! Very enjoyable!