The Edinburgh Fringe Full Monty (nearly) – Day 4, 8th August 2022

What’s in store for us in Edinburgh today?

Here’s the schedule for 8th August:

10.20 – About Money, Summerhall. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:

About Money“’Weans. They get expensive, you know?’ Fast-food worker Shaun is your average 18-year-old boy. He likes music, video games and getting stoned. He’s also the sole carer to his eight-year-old sister, Sophie. Without enough money for childcare and under pressure from an unsympathetic boss, he’s forced to make decisions that could have devastating consequences. Drawn from interviews with young kinship carers and inspired by the McDonald’s strikes of 2018, this Glasgow drama is about family, love and friendship in a world where the lack of money threatens all three.

65% Theatre are the team behind this intriguing and promising sounding play, that tackles important subject matter. I hope it’s a great show.

UPDATE: 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; is incredible how using just two chairs and wearing two red caps can say so much. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

12.50 – Ultimatum, Pleasance Courtyard.

Ultimatum“Two strangers have one hour to split £1m. Sounds easy, but what happens when one of them refuses to play fair? What is fair? Who deserves money? Why? Ultimatum is a new play by Jon Gracey that forces a conversation on class, autobiography, truth, reality TV and ethical duty to our fellow humans. Praise for previous Treehouse productions: Courtroom Play: A Courtroom Play – ‘Delightfully silly’ ***** (; Bring Them Home – ‘One for the bucket list’ ***** (; Werewolf: Live – Nominated for Best Newcomer, Brighton Fringe 2017.”

This sounds immensely entertaining and done well I think could be a big hit!

UPDATE: A very entertaining story and clever premise, although I did find the ending slightly predictable. It could have benefited from a little tighter writing and stronger performance which I am sure will come over time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

16.30 – Iain Dale: All Talk with Angela Rayner MP, Pleasance @ EICC.

Angela Rayner“Award-winning LBC radio presenter and For the Many podcast host brings his acclaimed, incisive insight on current affairs back to the Fringe with these in-depth interviews featuring audience questions. Today’s guest is Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, deputy leader of the Labour Party under Keir Starmer and shadow cabinet member across multiple portfolios. ‘The indefatigable Iain Dale always cuts to the nub of politics’ (Adam Boulton). ‘There are very few commentators and broadcasters with an instinctive feel for real politics. Iain Dale does, which makes him endlessly listenable-to and peerless’ (Andrew Marr).”

We’re really looking forward to hearing Angela Rayner speak. This will be fascinating!

UPDATE: Another interview; unlike his conversation with Rory Stewart, Iain Dale asked much more personal questions of Angela Rayner, who was extremely engaging, intelligent and impressive. There was a question about Scottish Independence, her answer to which I don’t think will have the local people returning to the Labour fold in a hurry. Near the end four young women got up to make an environmental protest, which Ms Rayner took in her stride but which really pi**ed off Iain Dale.

18.40 – Luke Kempner: Macho Macho Man, Pleasance Courtyard.

Luke Kempner“Star of Spitting Image (Britbox), Steph’s Packed Lunch (Channel 4) and with over 10 million views online, comedian Luke Kempner has found out he is to become a father, but can he be the macho macho man he believes he needs to be? With a razor-sharp roster of contemporary impressions from Piers Morgan and Bojo to Ted Hastings and Paul Hollywood, Luke is bringing his highly anticipated show to Edinburgh. As seen (and heard) on: The Last Leg (Channel 4), The Stand-Up Sketch Show (ITV2), Love Island: Aftersun (ITV2), The Now Show (BBC Radio 4).”

I always enjoy seeing Luke Kempner and am really glad he’s bringing this show to Edinburgh as we missed it when he performed it locally! Last time I saw him he had me up on stage with him, so I must remember not to make eye contact…

UPDATE: An entertaining show about whether Luke was ready for parenthood but which was perhaps rather slight in comparison with his previous shows. Nevertheless it was still very funny and he is a true master of impersonation. He did involve me in the show again, fortunately this time just from my seat! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

20.10 – Hal Cruttenden: It’s Best You Hear It From Me, Pleasance Courtyard.

Hal Cruttenden“After 21 years and 224 days Hal’s back being single. But it’s all going to be fine. Instead of getting the therapy he clearly needs, he’s made a cracking show about it. He’s lost enough weight to almost get his wedding ring off and, while he may be flying solo, he’s far from alone; he’s got his grown-up daughters, his dogs and his divorce lawyer. The fickle finger of fate has turned Hal’s life upside down but he’s sticking a finger right back at it. ‘Funniest he’s ever been’ ***** (Times).”

Hal Cruttenden’s a great comedian and I’ve heard very good things about this show, so I’m looking forward to it enormously!

UPDATE: 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! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

21.55 – Blunderland, Underbelly’s Circus Hub on The Meadows.

Blunderland“The subversive break-out hit of the international cabaret and circus circuit, we have arrived with a strong dose of what we all need at the moment: some outrageous nightlife naughtiness, club-kid antics and a heady dose of arthouse weird. Born out of the New York underground queer nightlife scene this show has titillated packed crowds worldwide who are enthralled with its uniquely whimsical and ridiculous performance combinations. Join us for an evening of sensually disastrous drag, burlesque and circus you won’t forget!”

There are a number of circus/burlesque shows on this Fringe and we are seeing a few of them – I don’t know if this will be any different from the norm – we wait and see!

UPDATE: One of those “only at the Fringe” big top experiences where fantastic Circus skills and some of the less classy elements of burlesque mix. Amazing aerial acrobatics, and some very funny routines. One couple left early on, it was clearly not what they were expecting!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review – Hal Cruttenden, Tough Luvvie, Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 30th October 2014

H CruttendenLittle did I know, gentle reader, that as I was battling with the northbound M1 traffic yesterday evening and wondering whether I would get home in time to meet Mrs Chrisparkle, have something to eat and then go out together to see Hal Cruttenden at the Royal, that Mr Cruttenden was having precisely the same thoughts. Well, maybe not the bit about meeting Mrs C and me for a bite to eat, but definitely struggling to get to the theatre in time for his 7.45pm Tough Luvvie show. Mrs C and I made it on the stroke of 7.45. Mr Cruttenden beat us by a few minutes apparently. How do I know this? Because his account of his panicky journey, then discovering there was nowhere to park, was how he introduced his show. Those anxious worries about Not Making An Important Appointment On Time set the tone for the evening; an extremely candid, personal and honest two and a half hours summation of what makes Mr Cruttenden tick. Mind you, if had been late he could have bought us all a pint like John Bishop did.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ve actually seen Hal Cruttenden once before on the stage of the Derngate, when he was – I think – supporting Julian Clary (so to speak). I could be wrong about for whom he was warming up, it was before I started blogging. But I remember we both enjoyed him and the insight into his world – a camp straight man married to a woman from Northern Ireland with a fearsome voice. We’ve not seen any of his interim TV appearances so I was looking forward to seeing how he would carry an entire show by himself.

Hal CruttendenHugely better than I could have expected, as it happens. He has a very chatty and welcoming style that makes you feel like you’re just sitting in his front room after a lovely meal, passing round the port and the cognac whilst he holds court; the perfect dinner party host, all relaxed bonhomie and with a funny story about every possible subject. Whilst it seems as though he is jumping around from topic to topic as things occur to him, I actually think it was all jolly cleverly planned and prepared – but you couldn’t tell the join between the scripted bits and the off-the-cuff dealing with whatever the audience threw at him.

We were indeed an eclectic bunch in the Royal last night, that included a Royal Protection officer, a “Plastic Paddy”, an acutely embarrassed young couple in the front row and a woman recovering from a Bone Marrow transplant who didn’t so much heckle as simply engage too loudly with the proceedings. Mr Cruttenden can bat these unusual oddballs into the long grass with ease, but some of them were quite resilient in their determination to play a part in the show. One response of his I particularly liked when the interrupting woman started up a new conversation was “I’m actually quite busy at the moment…” There was also an actor (with the stress on the final syllable) who had trained at Bristol Old Vic (Mr Cruttenden clearly rather envious of this reputable Alma Mater) and who I recognised as being a friend of a friend of a friend. It gave Mr Cruttenden the opportunity to do a hilariously silly sequence about how stage schools don’t prepare you for the reality of Life In Showbiz.

Hal CDespite the continual dipping in and out of conversation with various members of the audience, there were loads and I mean really loads of great material here. Mr Cruttenden’s main strength is the contrast between his “butter wouldn’t melt” appearance and accent, and the not always so sweet content of the language that he uses and the situation he’s in. He’s unbeatable when doing a routine where a middle class person (i.e. him) is suddenly plonked into an alien working class environment, such as letting loose a tirade of foul mouthed abuse at a football referee, then turning to his friend on the terraces and simpering “so sorry about the language, Giles”. We loved his “gay football chanting” sequence – again it’s the juxtaposition between the roughty-toughty world of football and the unexpected and inappropriate chants of its less aggressive supporters.

There are very many outstanding sequences of comic fantasy that had us in hysterics. We loved the extension of that common phenomenon where parents suddenly become very religious when the local C of E school gets great Ofsted reports, and what could happen if it was an ISIL school; he speculated on a comprehensive school version of Hogwarts; he looked back at the part the English played in the Scottish referendum; he admitted what you really shouldn’t say to a returning Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran who admires your work as a comic; and we heard the refined young Hal’s reaction to seeing his first QPR game. And so very much more besides.

HalCruttendenMost of all, I love the way Mr Cruttenden sends himself up, playing on his sometimes precarious camp/straight balance, ridiculing his own middle class lifestyle and offering us just that touch of vanity that we can all recognise in ourselves – beautifully highlighted in his final story about protecting a lone female traveller on the tube.

The two and a half hours flew by. His tour continues, with many dates still to play before Christmas. We found him both refreshingly self-deprecating and completely hysterical with his class-based routines and asides. Highly recommended!